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Far Cry 3 Isn't Racist. You Just Didn't Get It.

Illustration for article titled emFar Cry 3/em Isnt Racist. You Just Didnt Get It.

Don't get me wrong, I loved Far Cry 3. It's a magical game. But at the same time, the further I got through the game's story, the more uncomfortable it made me feel.

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Yeah, there's the racist stuff, but also just the sense that, oh dear, one of the best games of the year is actually being made worse by its story, which is sabotaging all the good will the more open-ended sections of the game had built up.

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Reaction to this has been so bizarrely unanimous amongst those who have played the game that you'd think the writers and designers behind it would be saying "OK, lesson learned!", but nope, they're defending their decisions to the death.

In a long and constantly fascinating interview on Rock, Paper, Shotgun, John Walker chats with Jeffrey Yohalem, the game's author, about people's concerns, and how the developers went about putting the game's story together.

It's well worth a read, but the one thing that struck me most was the dismissive manner in which Yohalem shrugs off complaints about the game's lack of message, or even allegations it's a wee bit racist. He says there's subversion to be found in the writing, that the entire game is a commentary on things like old-fashioned Western racism, the "noble savage", and that the reason people aren't seeing that is because they're not looking hard enough.

Um, no. If your audience isn't getting the message, even those looking for it, then it's your delivery that's failed, not the mind of the audience. He says Far Cry 3 subverts with things like obvious tropes (like "dumb" natives), but... presents nothing but obvious tropes, assuming some simplistic naming conventions (the island is called "rook" because you're being played, etc) make it all OK. Which they don't.

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I understand the team, and Yohalem in particular, had something to say with Far Cry 3. They just didn't say it very well. Hopefully, instead of trying (and not doing a very good job) to defend their decisions, they can learn some lessons, apply them, and maybe steer Far Cry's narrative a little closer back towards where it was with Far Cry 2, and a little further away from... whatever the hell Far Cry 3's mix of tribalism, romance and insanity resulted in.

Far Cry 3′s Jeffrey Yohalem On Racism, Torture And Satire [Rock, Paper, Shotgun]

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DISCUSSION

Pidgeyking
Pidgeyking

Far Cry 3 is racist. But not in ways that the writers, or any game journalists, seem to see.

Here is a run down of some issues from a kiwi -

The fact that 90% of the natives of the Island have New Zealand Maori accents, and say Maori words, yet the priestess speaks a fake language and has some weird African accent.

The fact they make a big deal about cultural tattoos without having tattoos that even resemble the cultural tattoos of any Pacific nation. They look like Mayan tattoos or something. Or cheap tribal tattoos from some white guy in a tattoo shop in LA. Pacific tattoos DO NOT LOOK LIKE THAT.

There are no Pacific nations with ruins like that. The game's ruins are completely incorrect to Pacific history.

90% of the natives have New Zealand Maori accents, but almost every games journalist keeps calling them Australian. In fact, there are one or two Australians, but they are characters, such as Buck. All the random NPCs have Maori accents, but all the characters have completely different accents. There are no articles I have yet read that pick this up? Wtf.

The culture of the island natives is actually VERY close to traditional New Zealand Maori culture, but that culture barely exists anymore outside the poorest areas of the country (watch this for some reference on what gangs in NZ are like and why I found Far Cry too close to home and too ignorant http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=c02_1190100079). Even then there are many good people in those places, and if they played Far Cry 3 they would be deeply offended. The Far Cry writers made NZ social commentary without even realizing it.

NZ has one of the worst cultures of domestic violence in the developed world. This is especially prevalent in Maori families. You can hear a Maori pimp beat a Maori hooker. Its bad. Bad bad.

I like that people are seeing the racism in the game. But I am so sick of the ignorance of the game being discussed in equally ignorant ways. Yes there are issues with the "Noble Savage" idea. And yes this is a massive issue in NZ history. But there are far mroe simple aspects that I take issue with.

They tried to present a non specific Pacific culture, but not only did they not look into what Pacific nations are like, they seem to have just lifted Maori ideas and bastardized them to tell an ignorant story about their ancestral guilt.