Is Far Cry 5 Really Controversial?

This is going to be a little more off the cuff than normal.

I’ve been struggling to write this article for the past couple days. I’ve scrapped this many times already, because I’m finding it difficult to put my thoughts together on the subject with any sense of cohesion.

I’ll go ahead and disclose a couple bits for you before I begin:

  • I’m a Christian, but I don’t identify with the cultists portrayed in Far Cry 5
  • I hold more libertarian political beliefs

That said, please keep in mind that I’m not outraged at the game itself, but more worried about the mentality of support it has garnered by simply covering the subject matter it involves.

Ubisoft Hasn’t Made Many Fans

Radiotower

Far Cry 5‘s announcement has seen some incredible levels of support from the gaming community. This is rather surprising since Ubisoft seems to be the whipping child of the industry.

For instance, Ubisoft games possess trite mechanics, often forcing players to endure climbing their iconic “Ubisoft towers” to unlock sections of their massive bloatbox maps. The Assassin’s Creed series has been consistently met with derision from gamers the world over because of its constant releases (up until recently) and recycled design. Just searching for Ubisoft downgrades will show how the gaming community is able to see past the company’s bullshots and marketing these days. That’s not even mentioning Ubisoft’s track record with microtransactions, DLC, and season passes, or gamers’ perception of the Uplay PC client.

So why is Far Cry 5 – the latest in a long series of games that have followed the same basic mechanical structure since 2008 – so popular already?

Far Cry 5 Comment 3

I imagine that these folks are soundly in the minority, and I know that the internet is the internet, but it’s a little distressing to see that these thoughts even exist in the open of a community that I’ve long felt was more progressive than the rest of society.

It appears that Far Cry 5‘s villain is an extreme, right-wing leader of a cult rooted loosely in Christian ideals, but it seems like there aren’t many gamers that understand the distinction. Far Cry 5 Comment 2

When did this sort of thinking become okay? When has violence against any specific group become vogue? Like I stated earlier, I have come to view the gaming community as a majority to be progressive. Many of those active in the industry also tend to hold more liberal ideologies, which is fine; but is violence against certain groups alright as long as they possess different viewpoints than yours? That hasn’t been true in a very long time, yet somehow it’s socially acceptable now to hold these convictions, as long as you’re targeting the right group.

Is Far Cry 5 really going to be a cathartic experience for people looking to take out their frustrations with society on video game avatars? This mentality sounds less like the progressive gaming community I’ve come to enjoy being a part of, and more like the disturbing depths of the gaming community that are often lamented to exist. It sounds like the same mentality that gave birth to GamerGate. It sounds like the guys that send death threats to female gamers, developers, and journalists.

Far Cry 5 Comment 4

It’s disturbing to me because the gaming community seems pretty eager to kill virtual representations of what they believe to be the exemplars of religious conservatives. What concerns me even more is that Ubisoft has a terrible habit of handling sensitive issues with the tact and integrity of a group of 13 year olds throwing things at a homeless man. I wonder if they’ll portray all religious folks in Far Cry 5 as violent nutjobs. The pastor, Jerome Jeffries, doesn’t seem to provide a good example either; having a carved out bible with a revolver tucked inside, and implying that he’s willing to kill his former church members because they strayed from his flock.

Ubisoft’s Fingerprints Are Present

That’s just the thing though. Every character seems to be a caricature, and the hallmarks of a standard Ubisoft game are all present. It will be an open world shooter, filled with countless activities to complete, and hundreds of goons to shoot. Far Cry 5 will likely be pretty fun, and the characters themselves will probably be extremely forgettable. I’d like to see that there’s some sense of normalcy presented to help counteract the negative imagery, but that isn’t exactly Ubisoft’s strong point. I’d like to see normalcy in the game, but I’m not sure that’s something that will happen.

Mostly, I’m just shocked still that there are folks that are celebrating the gaming equivalent of throwing knives at an effigy of the person they hate. I’m a little more worried that those thoughts are completely acceptable as well.

Now, to be fair, it’s just a video game and many other groups are often the target of the traditional American power fantasy. The Eden’s Gate cult seems to be an extreme group as well, and not the type to be seen as holding Christian ideals. It’s just that this whole thing makes me feel uneasy, and I don’t entirely know why. Maybe the thought of people fantasizing over killing people like my family members over their political or religious beliefs is getting to me.

I know that last part has been a point of contention in modern American society for a long time, and that this particular example is far from the extremes that many groups have endured. It’s just that for the first time in my life, it has become clear to me that there are people out there that hate who I am because I’m who I am.

Or maybe I’m just putting too much thought into it, but there sure seems to be a ton of really hateful people out there, and they really want to play Far Cry 5.

 

18 thoughts on “Is Far Cry 5 Really Controversial?

  1. I’m Atheist, don’t care for politics, and ignore other people’s opinions on games. Far Cry 5 (or should I say 4.5) looks like more of the same and once it drops to $20 I might purchase it. I don’t care about the “racism” in the game or how other people feel about it. I buy games to have fun and get away from real life for a few hours. Worrying about other people’s views on it will just add some unneeded stress in my life :).

    This was a nice read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I enjoy games that make a statement about something, but I don’t necessarily want every game to try and take a stance on every subject. I also find it odd that a first person shooter is seen as possibly breaking ground in the US by challenging people’s perceptions. All I could think of when it was announced at first was the boring collect-athon that Far Cry 4 was.

      Like I said though, the premise of the game doesn’t bother me at all. It’s the gaming community’s reaction to it that bothers me. If anything, people should realize that they’re probably getting manipulated into buying a Ubisoft game due to its slightly controversial setting. They’re just setting themselves up for disappointment in the end considering that any sense of closure will be missing, the characters will probably lack nuance, and every interaction with another character will take place about 3 inches from the protagonist’s face.

      You probably have the healthiest viewpoint on the matter to be honest. Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m with Drakulus – I don’t care for politics, religion, or any group mentality that doesn’t concern what I love most – gaming.

        But…

        A common trend I’ve noticed recently as well; some people can be extremely hateful because they’re offended by something they see or something that they didn’t agree with. Not saying that it wasn’t like this in the past, but I’m becoming more aware of the careless hateful community that we live in today. Media is heavily at fault for this, as people are often able to say things anonymously and without any responsibility being stuck to them. Ubisoft could be feeding off of this community by introducing this game to these people; a hateful group of people that can take out their anger on whatever they feel is wrong with the world I suppose?

        I don’t necessarily care what other people do, but it certainly is more apparent nowadays that certain people like being hateful for anything they don’t agree with.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I don’t think Ubisoft is nefarious enough to capitalize on that sort of reaction. I do believe that the subset of hateful people that have come out into the open are something that Ubisoft didn’t anticipate. Maybe I’m being naive? I’d hate to think they knew this would be a possible outcome.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. No, most likely not – I would hope not. Ubisoft is pretty off-the-wall with the stories for their titles, but I highly doubt they intended for the reaction it’s getting now. Perhaps a title released at the wrong time, with unrelated intentions.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. After reading all of the comments I would like to add that I think it’s the vocal minority that’s complaining about this. Ubisoft has millions of fans and a few of them are upset because of the way White people are portrayed here. I’m White, Black, and German and it doesn’t bother me one bit. Most things that I’ve read in the Steam forums are a mixture of hate, racism, and just normal people looking forward to playing another Far Cry game.

        Ubisoft isn’t doing a very good job handling the situation though…

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Whoa…it seems like Ubisoft is handling this topic with all the finesse of a wet brick. Alright, some disclaimers about me. I’m intersectional feminist, liberal socialist, so I’m big on equality, and I think everyone suffers under an oppressive regime even those who are in privileged positions because there are standards everyone is “supposed” to live up to e.g. “act like a real man,” “women are more nurturing,” and arbitrary things like that. Things like this are the reason women are often awarded custody even if the father is clearly the better parent. So that being said, I disagree with dehumanizing anyone, so I don’t like any narratives that seek to do so. I do not have a problem with defending yourself with force if need be from those who seek to dehumanize you like nazis and (in often in my case) people on the more conservative side of the spectrum (I’m thinking of some of the horrible things I’ve heard said about the impoverished), and a violent response to people seeking to dehumanize and/or erase your existence is often necessary for survival, nor is anger at such treatment unwarranted.

    Ugh, I feel like I’m bungling what I want to say…there are ways to tackle the topic of a fascism/right wing extremists in a better way. While I do feel the mindset is extremely dangerous, I don’t think games like this are useful for making the situation better, but I don’t feel like I’m quite hitting on the head why it’s so problematic. I’m agnostic, and I’ve reached the point where I don’t have a problem with religion so long as its not toxic/detrimental.

    Anyway, thanks for talking about this and questioning it! We need people to think and not just rush bullishly into these kinds of topics. Otherwise you get the knee jerk reactions you’ve screenshotted above.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I legitimately believe that Ubisoft didn’t intend things to turn out the way they did. They clearly knew that they wanted to go the route they wanted to with their story, but I don’t think they intended Far Cry 5 to be a serious criticism of fascism or militant religious cults. I’d say they are in way over their head, and there are going to be a lot of very disappointed people once the game releases.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. There is a lot to unpack here. To answer the question of your title, no, I don’t think Far Cry 5 is controversial. At worst it is topical and hits a nerve with both sides. I’ll try to explain my reasoning below.

    As someone that was brought up Catholic but has turned mostly agnostic and has moderate economical leanings and liberal social leanings, there was only one option for me as president. To be honest, from after the conventions and through the debates, I wasn’t sure how anyone was able to think there was any more than one option for president. For me as someone with a strong Christian upbringing, I wasn’t sure how anyone could who identified as Christian could support Donald Trump. Everything that came out of his mouth seemed to be nestled in fear and hate. Neither of which are very Christian. Tie that in to one of his supposed biggest strengths, his business savy, and the reality of his business practices – which weren’t new bombshells for people that lived in the NE corridor, and I couldn’t see how anyone that wasn’t a right wing extremist thought he was a good option. I mean, he was endorsed by the KKK. No one outside of hateful, spiteful individuals would vote for this man right?

    And then he won.

    And I’m going to admit, despite being a middle class white man, that lives in a nice neighborhood of the Philadelphia suburbs, I was scared. I was scared for my sister-in-law who is gay. I was scared for the godmother of my youngest daughter because she had just married a black man. I was scared for my daughters and wife because they were female. I was scared for my wife, my oldest daughter, and myself, as we all suffer from conditions that the party in power doesn’t deem necessary to cover as part of health coverage. I was scared for my friends that aren’t white, some of which are of middle eastern decent. And I wasn’t the only one.

    In the days following the election, things became increasingly contentious. From my seat, the man elected president had divided the country more before he was even in office than anyone ever before in my lifetime. I witnessed friends and family members fighting it out. I stupidly entered the fray on a number of occasions as well when I saw something that I found to be abjectly moronic. I wrongly went in to these arguments with the feeling that these Trump defenders were the far right extremists that had no regard for anyone not white, straight, and male. To be fair, their arguments didn’t really lend to support that they weren’t. But I started to lump everyone that had supported Trump into the same bucket. A bucket of racist, homophobic, sexist, slugs.

    And much like Hilary Clinton and her surrogates, I was wrong to do so. A good many people that supported Trump weren’t any of those things. They had tons of differing reasons for supporting him over her. And while I don’t agree with any of them and find the man they supported and his now vice president to be despicable human beings, I can sympathize to an extent. He spoke to their fears, rational or not, and promised to return us to a time when those fears weren’t existent.

    So what does this have to do with games, specifically Far Cry 5? Where did that progressive community you’ve come to enjoy go?

    Simply put, it is still there. Just like not all gamers are representative of GamerGate, not all gamers are representative of this anti-Trump desire to kill onscreen avatars of his supporters. If you look around the internet enough, you’ll see that there are people vocally supporting or condemning the direction Far Cry 5 is taking.

    Additionally, in a way, Far Cry 5 itself is quite progressive. It is a AAA franchise that is taking aim at its largest player base and telling us that not all the dangers in the world are brown people and Russians. It is as heavy handed as a bag of rocks and I don’t expect it to be subtle in any way but it is trying something. And in doing so, it is asking those of us that aren’t on the two extremes – those that want to virtually kill Trump supporters and those that self identify with the far right extremist – to maybe look at the world in a different light, outside of our shaded viewpoint. But still climb those radio towers.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for sharing that. I found myself on the opposite side of the political spectrum from you during my early college years. I got into many arguments with my left-leaning friends and family as a result. Over the years, I’ve grown to be more moderate.

      I don’t understand the controversy myself. The notion that somehow the villains of Far Cry 5 are representative of “average Americans” or WASPs in general is rather laughable to me. I also don’t have the misconception that the majority of gamers have the views of the few that are seeking a revenge fantasy. It’s just a little appalling that this sort of mentality isn’t getting called out. If anything, that double standard is the only thing that could even mildly be considered a controversy.

      The game itself looks like it will be fairly fun, and the topic itself doesn’t seem offensive to me at all. If anything, I just don’t trust Ubisoft to do anything notable with the subject matter. I fully expect for the game to release, and the “controversy” to blow over once everyone realizes that no statement has actually been made, and Far Cry 5 was designed only to provide a different type of enemy to shoot at.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry for being so wordy, it just kept flowing out. Anyway, I may turn that into a post on my blog being as the comment itself is nearly long enough for one. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting thoughts! No, I don’t agree that anyone should be targeting purposefully and “for fun.” Stereotypes are not okay. What you play in a video game is not real life. Etc., etc.

    The comments I have read have been mostly trying to shut the game down because “Christians are peaceful and non-judgmental; they should use Muslims instead” (how cute – they missed the irony) and then the backlash of “we get to shoot at those unaccepting nutjobs from Westboro Baptist Church” (how cute – they missed the irony). And I get a headache at every one of those comments.

    I hope this game takes on extremism in a way that makes it a social commentary. I hope this game slaps us all in the face that it’s not “just” Muslims, or Russians, or Arabs, or Mexicans, or whoever, that can be bad guys. Movies can do it. Books can do it. Why not games?

    And if a person is okay with criticizing another, they should be able to handle a little criticism themselves. I also really agree with Chris above, regarding the toxic environment that the country is in right now.

    However, to speak to your point about folks wanting to hurt conservative Christians, I honestly think that the people on both sides of the issue that we’re hearing from are, as usual, the fringe. I think the silent majority will either see it as just another game, or – if the game is done well – will appreciate the social commentary.

    Like

  5. Ubisoft looked to the conflicts in Myanmar when coming up with ideas for Far Cry 4 (If I remember correctly). It was only a matter of time until they capitalized on the militias of the Northwest United States. Honestly, I think that this setting is great – I would liken it to a Walking Tall premise rather than any knock on conservatives. While I don’t think anyone asked specifically for this premise (the survey sent out after Far Cry’s 4 release could be considered proof of this), Ubisoft might have capitalized on the growing paranoia of such groups to base their premise on (and they’ve been working on this for about two years, before any of the election stuff really started picking up).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d like to look into the Far Cry 4 connection now that you mention it. I do see your perspective about the feel of the game so far. Walking Tall would be an apt comparison with the town being taken over and whatnot.

      Ubisoft did do their research, but I don’t think they prepared adequately for the reception of it. I doubt it will matter once the game releases though. By then, everyone will have long forgotten about it.

      Like

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