Posted on April 23, 2018

Video Games Can’t Win When It Comes to Race

Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, April 23, 2018

Whites are at fault, no matter what they do. If they move into an area, it’s gentrification. If they move out, it’s white flight.

This even holds true for video games. If a game is set in Europe during the Middle Ages and doesn’t include black people, it’s a problem. If a game is set in modern Montana and includes too many black people, that’s a problem, too.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance, a video game set in medieval Bohemia, is a commercial success but a target for critics. Many complained it didn’t have a single black person, which Robert Purchase at EuroGamer called a “big problem.”

At Waypoint, the gaming website of Vice, podcast hosts Patrick Klepek, Danielle Riendeau, and editor-in-chief Austin Walker admitted the game was a “bona fide hit.” However, the podcast worried about how to cover a game linked to a developer who had “legitimized” GamerGate, and the hosts also complained there weren’t enough people of color in Witcher 3, a game based on Polish folklore.

Dexter Thomas (who is black) of Vice Culture, another part of the Vice network, has a different grievance with the new game Far Cry V: It has “way too many black people.”

In the game, the player is a deputy taking on a doomsday cult in rural Montana. Blacks are disproportionately represented both as enemies and allies compared to the Montana population. “[F]or a series that prides itself on realism, my experience of constantly bumping into assault rifle-toting black people in the forests of Montana just seems unrealistic,” Mr. Thomas complained.

Mr. Thomas believes there should have been more American Indians in the game, since there is a sizable population in Montana. However, the game does feature at least one prominent American Indian character, “Wheaty,” who can assign the player missions and quests. Another character, “Sheriff Earl Whitehorse,” may also be an Indian.

As Mr. Thomas notes, the racially diverse Montana in Far Cry V “may just be a sign that [developer] Ubisoft, like a lot of the game industry, is starting to make some (occasionally awkward) efforts at inclusion.” He quotes Creative Director Dan Hay, who admits prior games in the series had a white savior complex, with the “Great White Hope going in and saving these folks.” Unlike previous games, Far Cry V lets the player create his own avatar, so the protagonist can be whatever race he likes. Unfortunately, as Mr. Thomas points out, the dialogue of the game seems to assume the player looks white.

Mr. Thomas dismisses Ubisoft’s attempts to achieve diversity as “ham-fisted,” and wishes the game had been more political. He notes previous games in the series took “direct jabs at American foreign policy” while the story in Far Cry V is largely apolitical; it’s just a diverse cast of Americans blowing each other away with automatic weapons.

Mr. Thomas’s disappointment in Far Cry V’s apolitical stance is notable considering how much controversy the game caused when it was first announced. The cover art features a pseudo-Christian cult in a Last Supper-type pose, with a modified American flag and crates of automatic weapons. This led to speculation that the game would mean players were gunning down white conservatives, or, as Mr. Thomas put it, giving white people the “violent savage” treatment. Despite some ill-informed reporters such as Justin Mutch at The Pioneer trying to push this, the game does no such thing. Indeed, this is precisely why several media outlets are so disappointed; they don’t get to gun down white conservative Christians.

For example, Andrew Webster at The Verge complains the game doesn’t confront the “inevitable analogies it invites to the real-world scourge of white nationalism.” Mr. Webster says the game has too many “tattooed and well-armed white men using force to exert dominance over a society they feel has left them behind.” However, he argues, “The game completely avoids discussing race.”

William Hughes at AV Games calls Far Cry V “a bit chickenshit in comparison to the last big shooter about occupied America, the blatantly political and anti-Nazi Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.” “There’s little sustained investigation of wider social factors, like the overlap between militant Christian extremism and white supremacy or sexism — indeed, the game generally ducks such questions,” complains Edwin Evans-Thirlwell at Eurogamer, in a review that also complains about the racial diversity of the evil cult. The previously mentioned Austin Walker (a person of color) is upset the game doesn’t confront what he claims are “more obviously troubling truths, like the racism and xenophobia that swept Trump into office.”

Of course, the problem with all this is that critics seem to believe a video game can confront racial issues realistically. If any game presented a rational portrayal of white advocates, it would immediately be denounced. The developers of Far Cry V want to make money, not please critics who are constantly looking for reasons to be offended.

Any discussion of racial issues in a video game is likely to be a tired repetition of egalitarian clichés and incitements to violence against white advocates. After all, in academia, the workplace, or politics, any invitation to a “conversation about race” is a demand to submit to a monologue. An honest opinion risks doom. As Robert Weissburg noted, “A single heretical utterance almost guarantees attention from self-appointed social justice warriors who will dig deeper to uncover an ‘alarming’ pattern of racist blog posts, Facebook entries and who knows what else, all to be publicized and sent to the person’s employer.” It’s difficult to take any call for a confrontation of “racial issues” in good faith.

Mr. Thomas inadvertently confirmed this in his 2017 review of Wolfenstein II, in which the player fights an imagined Nazi occupation of America. He suggested the Nazis were presented as “reasonable” or “sympathetic” because they defend free speech. He even suggested the game might cause some people to question their beliefs.

Mr. Thomas got it wrong. By putting free-speech arguments in the mouths of uniformed Nazi stormtroopers just before you blow them to bits, the game’s point is to discredit free speech. Similarly, the “Black Liberation Army” the player aligns with in the game makes speeches about how white Americans mostly sympathize with the Nazi occupation. The point is to make you feel ashamed of America’s “racist” history. The game is essentially a recruitment pitch for antifa; journalists are even now urging people to buy the game so they can enjoy “punching Nazis on the go.”

While critics seem upset Far Cry V did not follow the example of Wolfenstein II of encouraging violence against white advocates, it’s worth noting Wolfenstein II had disappointing sales. Even after an extensive marketing effort, it had a relatively slow launch. In contrast, Far Cry V is a smash hit, indeed, the “fastest-selling game in the history of the series, and the second best launch of any Ubisoft game ever,” according to PC Gamer.

As the critical reception of Far Cry V shows, no matter what game developers do, they are almost always going to be attacked for some kind of racial error. They will be hit for having either too much diversity or too little. Agitprop such as Wolfenstein II may satisfy journalists, but few gamers. White players generally avoid products that call for them to be killed. Not surprisingly, gamers of all races usually want well-made, engrossing, and above all entertaining games that let them escape the tedium of an increasingly ugly world. Developers who put gamers’ desires first profit; those who cater to journalists’ political demands suffer.

Of course, from a political standpoint, we may not want white gamers to be able to escape from reality. Gaming, like other forms of media, is an important influence on a person’s self-perception and identity. White people, especially young white men, are already poisoned by the media with self-hatred. They don’t need more.

While it may infuriate critics who can’t conceive of entertainment that is not propaganda, the success of apolitical games is a positive sign developers are putting entertainment first, rather than political correctness. Each small success of this kind helps more whites realize they are going to be called “racist” no matter what they do. Eventually, enough will realize this so that whites will finally be able to take their own side — and we’ll be able to build a world from which we won’t want to escape via electronic fantasy.