Controversy In Gaming Is Good- An Unpopular Opinion

Controversy….It’s a pretty strong word in this world. I’ll admit it. I’m from a family that believes in god. I believe in a higher power myself. I’m from the country, born in Georgia, raised in the sticks of Missouri and even better, I live in Oklahoma. I’ve never been one to understand extreme liberal viewpoints and yeah I’ve camped and all that good country stuff in the past. The point is, I’m a country boy. I don’t see myself that way at all, but as a matter of fact most of what I know is from the viewpoint of someone who wasn’t raised in the city and was raised to believe in God and the Bible.

Why do I bring this up? Because controversy is upon us once again friends. Oh yes. Controversy is upon us and this time in the form of Ubisoft’s Far Cry 5. So if you haven’t heard the story synopsis, or rather the setting this time around it’s quite unique. It’s set in America, presumably current times. It’s main antagonist this time around is a Christian man who is out to set the world on fire. When I say Christian I mean extremist Christian, like when I say Extremist Islam. It’s the same concept.

(It may get a little political up in here)

So what’s the big deal here? When I heard the news I just kind of shrugged it off. I thought, that’s interesting. An open world game in a place I have never personally been, but could drive to tomorrow if I wanted to. Cool. A setting that is unique, occasionally touched upon in gaming, but never fully explored. I can’t wait. Cults and extremist Christian ideologies have been placed in gaming before, but I don’t think I have ever seen it quite like this. The thing is…I think this is actually the overall reaction of most people.

The problem is that isn’t the reaction that is being publicized. In fact what we are seeing is the negative backlash. Twitter reactions are just enough to make you go….What? From people spouting that it’s not fair to be killing white extremists, to the even more bizarre claims that this is Muslim extremism making its way into video games. I mean I just have one question….really? Is this really what you think is going on?

(We never questioned killing slightly white/black people before)

Here’s some facts for you Jack and Jill, a game can have controversy in it. In fact I would prefer that it does. Just because you don’t agree with something doesn’t mean that it isn’t right. In fact if you don’t agree with it that means you are a person. A person with opinions, feelings and rights. Could Ubisoft have created this game in another setting, well I mean sure, but it wouldn’t hit so close to home. In the past 3-4 years America has been a swirling and ever-changing melting pot of opinions and problems.

From cops killing people of color to the question of whether or not we should keep our guns. America is an interesting country right now and it is interesting because we are having to question our ideals. Why wouldn’t a game company look into that. Look into the deeper issues at root there. Do you like the freedom to own a gun? Why? Are you a religious individual that believes in the almighty Jehova? They are merely taking that setting and placing it in a game. Would you expect anything less from the developers of Far Cry?

Why is This Controversial?

Cults and extremists that kill people aren’t anything new to gaming. Games like Doom or even Bioshock have explored these ideas before in a variety of ways. Why is Far Cry 5 already being booed though? The answer quite simply is this, Western Society is being forced to question their own strongly held beliefs. Think about it for a second. When in gaming have you been forced to look at your own society and see it in a different light? I could point out the extreme capitalist society of Bioshock, and the fact that it makes me question some of my own ideas about government.

Or we can even look at games like Spec Ops: The Line and how it questions war and the effect it has on people. The point is that even though there are games that question our society, they never have been so blatant about it. Bioshock takes place in a world that couldn’t exist…yet. Spec Ops: The line is at such an extreme it is more a piece of art than it is a believable scenario. Far Cry 5 hits home because quite simply. It is home. For many Americans the ideas that are going to be explored in this game are the backbone of America and its society.

(Ferguson, MO. about 2 hours from I place I once called home)

Far Cry 5 is going to be looking at Christian Extremism and the hard held belief that we have the right to owning guns. I wasn’t shocked at this setting when I heard about it because I live it and I know what people say. Living in a rural America I have heard and seen people post on social media, about how if the government came to get their guns they would rebel. Government is extremely disliked in parts of the country and Far Cry 5 is going to show what that kind of life is like.

That is controversial. It is controversial to the biggest part of the world that plays games. Far Cry 3 and 4 were placed in fictional places based off of real parts of the world. Of course Far Cry 3 wasn’t going to be anything controversial because it is all on an island and the plot is quite simply…escape from the bad guys. Far Cry 4 on the other hand really opens up the flood gates to controversy, but not here in the good ol’ U.S’ of A. Far Cry 4 is based in Nepal and the communist war that happened between 1996-2006.

(Far Cry 4 was controversial, just not to the major gaming community)

Do you have strong feelings of controversy there? Did you live in Nepal and live those atrocities? Most likely not, so why would you find anything in that game controversial? You wouldn’t? However, some people probably did, but it wouldn’t be a vocal part of the gaming sphere, and most certainly doesn’t speak English. That’s the point here. The reason that this is controversial is that it is taking place with American people and it is questioning your beliefs. If this was focused on Islamic extremists in the U.S. it wouldn’t be a controversial game? Why?

The heart of the problem is right here for me Change.Org has a petition regarding Far Cry 5 and almost all of its “solutions” come back to fact of changing the bad guys from white to other races and making them Islamic terrorists, not Christians. So it’s okay if we slander the religion of Islam, but it’s not okay that we show Christianity in any negative lights? I hate to break it to you, but Christianity isn’t much better under the microscope either.

 

Far Cry 5 is Art, Deal With It

Look at history and you can see the genocidal history of both Christians and Islam. It’s a fact. Even today there are times when Christian countries become terrorists and extreme things have happened. Does that make all of Christianity that way? Of course not, but we are willing to throw Islamic and Muslim countries under the bus because it is an accepted bias in the United States? The entire Far Cry 5 petition is about being less offensive to the main player base, of course insinuating that they are white Christian individuals.

You are wrong though. Quite simply wrong. This petition would have you believe that being controversial to the white American is a bad thing, that it will negatively affect the sales and be the end of Ubisoft as we know it. Or is quite simply doing what art is supposed to do? Make you open your eyes and think. The petition calls for new villains and more diversity and that U.S. gamers have gone through enough… Isn’t that the whole point of Art and games?

(There is nothing controversial about the Art in Bioshock Infinite…right?)

Art in video games have been pushing the envelope for many years. If the only thing that was ever made in gaming was things that you agree with politically  would there be a point to it? Imagine a world where Bioshock never released. Bioshock at its very core questions my ideologies of a capitalistic society and the negative things that can come from it. Bioshock infinite even questions aspects of the Christian religion and some of it’s more questionable thought processes. Games like the Last of Us or even Uncharted in some sense are designed to question what we believe.

Think of a game like Gone Home, which spoilers ahead, I’m sorry. If you played gone home until the last moments in the game you would never know that you are playing a gay character. You would never know it, you would just think you are like any other girl in the world. Yet in the final moments is when it is finally revealed, it’s a revolutionary moment for me because it made me realize that I didn’t care that she was gay at all. I didn’t care because it was okay for characters to be gay in things that I enjoyed. I’m not gay and don’t have those tendencies, but I shouldn’t judge based on other peoples personal choices.

(I would never have guessed the secrets this house hid)

Now apply this to the ideology of Far Cry 5. It is searching the idea and the premise of a Christian extremist cult that takes over a city and it is your job to fight against it. The current propaganda and news stories make it seem like this is the most controversial thing in gaming. Why? Why should it be controversial? In my mind it seems like it should be a topic that is explored. Is the chance of this happening super high? Probably not, but the reality is that these types of things are talked about in those types of society. I can find multiple people on my Facebook page who have quoted something to this extreme.

 

This has happened

There are countless of stories of “radical” extremists going to any lengths to protect their religious freedoms and their right to own guns. Like you know…this story. Racism in the form of Ku Klux Klan are just a small example of the type of extremists that exist in this country. Just because you are more focused on an external threat doesn’t make the reality of an internal threat any different. In fact the entire petition against Far Cry 5 makes it seem like we should be upset that Ubisoft would even suggest such a thing, yet there are documented stories about religious extremism anywhere that religion exists.

If you have a problem with Far Cry 5 showing the type of realities that exist in the world than the problem is you. You don’t want to face the truth or the facts. America isn’t perfect. In fact Christianity isn’t perfect and in the same breath neither is Islam or Muslim culture. If you can’t accept in-depth looks at your culture then something is wrong. So if you are a Christian and you are offended by this then the problem is you. If these are extreme cases then shouldn’t you be able to look at this and know that?

(Obviously….we don’t all feel this way)

Of course not, because the people who have a problem with this are the same people who throw all of Islam and Muslim society in with terrorists. Not everyone that follows Islam is a terrorist, and that’s a fact. Yet I again personally know people who would make this claim and stand by it as if it’s a fact and think that we should just Nuke em’ all! Really? I mean isn’t that extreme? There are over 1.8 billion followers of Islam. If they were all terrorists and killers I think we would know.

 

The Final Point

The final thing here is quite simply this. Gaming and controversy go hand in hand. Games are developed by peoples of multiple cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities. It is a multi-billion dollar business and caters to a wide audience. If a game offends you, you don’t have to play it, but you are missing the bigger picture. Games are supposed to be controversial and push the medium as a result. If you were a fan of only country music and that’s all that was ever made think of all the great music we would miss out on. Imagine if platformers were decided on the only good type of video game, would that be a society you want to live in?

If I turned on the news and all I ever saw were things I agreed with it wouldn’t be a society worth living in. Controversy is what keeps gaming, society, life and anything else in the entire world spinning. Without controversy how do we know that there are things that go too far. Without a game like Bioshock or even to some extent the Tomb Raider reboot how would we explore these topics in gaming? Controversy needs to stay and Far Cry 5 is just fine the way it is. Don’t change a thing Ubisoft.