Sometimes it seems as if the end-all-be-all metric we use to determine if we will purchase something is "fun." In actuality, there are things about a game that might make someone think twice about purchasing it—and they have nothing to do with how the game plays or how fun it is.
Recently I noticed a lot of talk on Twitter about Far Cry 3, and how some people didn't feel comfortable about how it depicted race. Some of these folks were declaring that they wouldn't purchase the game for that reason, though they admitted that the game otherwise looked good.
As you might know, the premise of Far Cry 3 sees a group of white kids partying on an island, when suddenly things turn bad—and that's not just because pirates take them captive.
John Walker delves into the issue of race a bit over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
Because Far Cry 3, well, it's a bit racist, isn't it?
I said, rather flippantly, that the people of this island are the race they are, because it's the island they're native to. It is what it is, essentially. And that's the case – that's really not the issue here. It had to be set somewhere. The issue is the horribly worn tropes it so lazily kicks around when it gets there. As it is, you have the simple-folk-natives, and the immigrant white men with their mixture of South African and Australian accents. And one black guy. White people ask you to get involved in enormously elaborate machinations, ancient mysteries, and local politics. Locals ask you to help them kill endangered species, find their missing daughters, and point out when their husbands are gay. Essentially, the locals behave as if they're helpless without you, but when you wield their tattoo-based magical powers then true greatness appears. And it's here that the problems really kick in.
There's a term for it. It's "Noble Savage". And it also falls under the remit of the "Magical Negro". The trope is that the non-white character possesses mystical insight, magical abilities, or simply a wisdom derived from such a ‘simple life', that can enlighten the white man. And it's pretty icky. The premise relies on the belief that the individual's race is in some way debilitating, something their noble/mystical abilities are able to ‘overcome'.
Walker doesn't think the "spoilt rich white kids having their worlds fall apart" is a bad thing, and he talks about this a little between both of his pieces on Far Cry 3.
Still, this got me thinking: what does a game have to do to make someone reconsider buying it? Ideological things that trump fun, I mean.
I decided to ask Twitter. Here's what they said.
And now I must ask you, dear Kotaku readers: what sorts of things will cause you to boycott a game, and why? Should this ideological stuff matter at all when you're making a purchase?