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
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?
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.
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.
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.