Jimquisition: The FarCry Racism Adventure

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The FarCry Racism Adventure

It is time to talk about potential racism in videogame boxart. We all knew this day would come, and yet we did nothing. I'm being dramatic of course, so let's just talk about fabulous pink suits and a publisher that kept its lips sewn shut.

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The lack of racism in that final segment is something to truly appreciate.

Well, I agree even though I'm not entirely sure whether the tangent at the end about taking video games seriously was necessary or not.

I'd rather say Ubisoft is the victim in all of this, because stupid people are becoming a lot louder. Instead of just addressing the fact that they didn't add a framing device, they immediately steamrolled the company with bullshit, hatred and social justice warrioring. Does Ubisoft hold blame for what happened? Sure. All of it? No. Most of it? No. Half of it? No. A quarter? Eeeeeh, sure. We live in a world where the idiot masses are becoming increasingly vocal, and we can't expect everyone, or companies, to take in to account just how stupid people can get.

At first I thought Jim was going to say the least racist man in Mississippi, but world seems more accurate, after all it is Jim.

When i saw that F4 cover art my first thought was an arsehole treating people like crap. Same as every tyrant has treated those under them like crap. I think people are looking way to much into it and others just have a knee jerk reaction to shout racist at any picture with two people of different colour. If it was two black guys or two white guys no one would have said anything. To me, the guy in the pink will be the enemy, he is obviously in charge an egotistical, power hungry arsehole. An he shows that by how he treats the people under him - the fact he really doesnt care about them.

Take Farcry 3. If all the friends and playable character were black and the baddie was white - people would crow racism at that as well. Though if it was a black guy who was chasing and killing the 4 white friends, people say nothing. Its a knee jerk reaction as some people see racist imagery even though its not there.

I gonna have to absolve Ubisoft of all the blame here.

The cover was clearly depicting evil/corrupt dude sitting carelessly on a throne while oppressing a native/henchman. They're apparently to blame for not spelling it out, which says more about the times we live in. Where unless we're given "the full story" our minds automatically conclude that it must be advocating racism.

I wonder if we ever reach the point where people look at a box art like FC4's and only see two humans instead of a "white human" and a "slightly darker skinned human".

The test must have not been conducted with Stephen Colbert because he can't even see race! I say that test was therefore fundamentally flawed!

That was seen as a white man and a local? I just saw a pompous villain and his goon. Their ethnicities are vague and kinda muddy, so I didn't really have any assumptions. It wasn't until I saw this video that I was aware of the controversy nor the context of it.

When Jim ended with "I'm not racist" I was expecting him to follow up with a "but...." Does that make me racist?

While it was stupid of Ubisoft to release the image the way they did, I found it incredibly sad that so many people instantly assumed the absolute worst upon seeing the picture without context to frame it. It's something that I've noticed is happening with increasing frequency, i.e. people flipping their shit over a tiny nugget of (often incomplete) information, only to find that their outrage was misplaced once the bigger picture presented itself. There's a lesson to be learned here for everyone - I hope people see that once they've stopped chiding Ubisoft for their PR stupidity.

I suspect that Ubisoft's delayed explanation regarding the context of the boxart was intentional. Word of mouth is a great way to get free exposure, and controversy is just another form of that. You know what they say: there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Uriel_Hayabusa:
I suspect that Ubisoft's delayed explanation regarding the context of the boxart was intentional. Word of mouth is a great way to get free exposure, and controversy is just another for of that. You know what they say: there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Time and again, the "no such thing as bad publicity" adage is proven bullshit, especially in the Internet era.

Bad publicity is just that - bad. It's very much a real thing, and companies bend over backwards to avoid it.

I see no need for ubisoft to provide context. The cover is already enough context, the man is positioned as a pompous asshole subjugating a very crestfallen man, I want to know who the fuck thought that man was anything other than a villain. And sorry Jim, the far cry games are first person, I think it's safe to assume that's not a player character until proven otherwise. I can't stand ubisoft, I'm not buying watch dogs not because I don't want the game, but because I hope ubisoft goes bankrupt, but they handled this fine.

Yeah I agree with Jim, the real problem here isn't that Ubisoft is racist or that most people overreacted, but rather that publishers and developers treat any substantive information about their game like some kind of state or trade secret. I can understand not wanting to release a "Let's Play" on Youtube to promote your game, but putting out a press release along with the picture saying "Take a look at Farcry 4's new villain!" or something more clever and it could have avoided the whole controversy, but no, they just released the picture thinking people would discuss what it could mean and weren't smart enough to understand how the picture could be mistook without the context.

I'm more surprised Jim didn't mention the whole "effeminate male = evil" trope.

GoodNewsOke:
I wonder if we ever reach the point where people look at a box art like FC4's and only see two humans instead of a "white human" and a "slightly darker skinned human".

That was pretty much my impressions of the artwork when I saw it; Two people, one guy looking flashy and pompous. They barely even look like they have differently-colored skin, if you ask me.

I feel like the internet is far too eager to jump on these nontroversies. Was it stupid of Ubisoft to present the art with no context and then proceed to not give any context? Sure. But I personally think it's stupider that people saw the art and immediately jumped to racism.

And, for my money, I've been decrying basically all of these nontroversies. DRM, pre-orders, used games, Mass Effect 3, Anita Sarkeesian, I honestly believe that they're all blown far out of proportion by the internet, because the internet rarely keeps to civil debate about any of them. It always ends up being an internet slapfight about who can scream "You're stupid and wrong!" the loudest for the longest until the other person gives up and walks away (or one of them gets banned). And I'm just tired of it. I'm disappointed by the state of the games industry right now too, guys, but to be perfectly frank? I'm more disappointed by the state of the gaming communities I see.

EDIT: Though, on the subject of 'secrecy', I would have to say that I agree Ubisoft (and any other publisher caught in a similar situation) are entirely to blame. I generally avoid information related to games I'm looking forward to; I don't watch trailers, I don't read previews. I'll watch gameplay videos and read a few reviews once the game is released just to see if it's a dud or not, but otherwise I don't go out of my way to actually find information. Even still, I absolutely despise the fact that publishers treat video games like they're the deepest, darkest scientific finds of the millenium, and that people can actually lose their jobs because some small fact was leaked three days before the publisher deigned it ready (entire games leaking is another problem entirely). Lack of transparency is, to my mind, not a healthy thing for the industry to embrace as wholeheartedly as it has.

Wouldn´t saying "Thank Allah/Budda/Shiva", at the end of the video have put even more emphasis on the fact, that you are absolutely not racist ?

I had not heard of this controversy yet. I like the box art.
The two characters compliment each other greatly. The 'local' is submissive, bound, in mortal danger and defeated. The white haired man is in a position of power, overly superficially civilized (Bleached hair, pink suit) and heavily sadistic (holding the grenade pin over the head of the bound man.)

I do not like the white haired man, and I have a feeling I am really not supposed to. I do want to fight this man already, all over the Himalaya if that's what it takes.

Jimothy Sterling:

Uriel_Hayabusa:
I suspect that Ubisoft's delayed explanation regarding the context of the boxart was intentional. Word of mouth is a great way to get free exposure, and controversy is just another for of that. You know what they say: there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Time and again, the "no such thing as bad publicity" adage is proven bullshit, especially in the Internet era.

Bad publicity is just that - bad. It's very much a real thing, and companies bend over backwards to avoid it.

At the end of the day, I don't think "Game cover is construed as racist by some people" is a big enough controversy to hurt (or sink) a company.

Besides, adages generally aren't meant to be taken (too) literally. I still suspect that if Ubisoft truly worried about being the cover being construed as racist they would - and could - have clarified it a lot sooner; we live in the Internet era after all.

I wasn't actually aware of this until I watched this episode, but from what I've now seen I would have to agree with Jim.

Personally, I don't think there's enough context to the picture to be able to conclude that the game advocates racism. Of the Far Cry series I've only played 3, so when I saw the cover art for Far Cry 4 I just assumed that the guy in the pink suit was the villain, in the same way that Vaas was featured on the cover of Far Cry 3. Added to that the fact that the guy kneeling down is holding a grenade that looks like it could go off, I thought it fairly clear that this wasn't the protagonist. That being said, I can understand how it could potentially be viewed as racist, since it's not entirely clear that he is the villain.

Which is why Ubisoft should have added some context to the picture once people started making those claims. I'm sure they had a reason for keeping quiet until the predetermined date, but I can't imagine how it was good enough to ignore all the negative publicity being generated. I can see no benefit for them of keeping quiet, since it only let people come to their own conclusion. Really, I can't imagine it hurting Ubisoft's grand vision for the reveal of the game if they'd announced the details sooner.

I didn't realise people were making a deal of this, but I would not be surprised if Ubisoft counted on the knee jerk reaction for a bit of extra attention.

Anyone find that this is very coincidental to come up in video games just as the whole Clippers thing is happening with the NBA. When did it become the 1950's again?

Was that ending an incredibly subtle and delicate swipe at the #notallmen idiots? Or was it filmed before that shit happened?

Chuppi:
Wouldn´t saying "Thank Allah/Budda/Shiva", at the end of the video have put even more emphasis on the fact, that you are absolutely not racist ?

Are you implying that people can only practice religions based on their racial heritage? That's pretty racist man.
/s

OT: Yeah, Ubisoft are idiots for not just quashing the people screaming racism asap, but there shouldn't have been anyone screaming racism in he first place. These knee jerk reactions just really piss me off.

I'd also like to point out that even if the suited character was a racist white man dominating a Asian man because he thought said Asian man was inferior to him, that doesn't make the game racist. That makes the character racist. Depiction and avocation are two entirely different things and I really wish keyboard warriors would grasp this concept.

Never understood how anyone could take a single image with zero context that is FICTIONAL and cry racist.

Been said a lot lately, but it's getting to the state where the more people cry racism, the more they're just proving it's still something people are obsessing over.

I mean, say the image was turned around and it's a himalayan local in the seat with a white guy on his knees. Wouldn't be surprised if they claimed that was racist too for making it look like all non-white people are terrorists or some such nonsense.

Also can't help but think Ubi is only emphasizing the bad guy so much since it worked so well for Farcry 3 with Vaas. What's the bet they'll release a trailer next with the not-actually-white guy spouting off some suitably cool and gritty dialogue.

Bocaj2000:
That was seen as a white man and a local? I just saw a pompous villain and his goon. Their ethnicities are vague and kinda muddy, so I didn't really have any assumptions. It wasn't until I saw this video that I was aware of the controversy nor the context of it.

Same, if anything I thought people might complain about the campiness of the villain and possible gay-codedness, not the ethnicities. People will seem to look for hidden meanings and 'subtext' in anything, apparently.

Unrelated but I can't honestly see how the villain in the pink suit isn't white though, he looks exactly like a muscular Scandinavian. Maybe they're using that crazy definition where a tiny smidgen of non-European blood makes you non-white for some reason. At a stroke he could be half-Asian I guess.

Anyone else get the feeling that Jim was just a few short sentences of saying some of his best friends aren't racist either?

At the end of the day, I'm glad this became a controversy. I'm glad people are willing to get up in arms about little shit like this, so that when a company really fucks up they'll be called out on it.

And, yeah, I can kind of see where people are coming from. That said, I agree with what Jim said that it's important to determine whether the art is racist, or merely depicting racism. Unfortunately, Ubisoft chose not to clarify, and so here we are.

shrekfan246:

GoodNewsOke:
I wonder if we ever reach the point where people look at a box art like FC4's and only see two humans instead of a "white human" and a "slightly darker skinned human".

That was pretty much my impressions of the artwork when I saw it; Two people, one guy looking flashy and pompous. They barely even look like they have differently-colored skin, if you ask me.

I feel like the internet is far too eager to jump on these nontroversies. Was it stupid of Ubisoft to present the art with no context and then proceed to not give any context? Sure. But I personally think it's stupider that people saw the art and immediately jumped to racism.

And, for my money, I've been decrying basically all of these nontroversies. DRM, pre-orders, used games, Mass Effect 3, Anita Sarkeesian, I honestly believe that they're all blown far out of proportion by the internet, because the internet rarely keeps to civil debate about any of them. It always ends up being an internet slapfight about who can scream "You're stupid and wrong!" the loudest for the longest until the other person gives up and walks away (or one of them gets banned). And I'm just tired of it. I'm disappointed by the state of the games industry right now too, guys, but to be perfectly frank? I'm more disappointed by the state of the gaming communities I see.

EDIT: Though, on the subject of 'secrecy', I would have to say that I agree Ubisoft (and any other publisher caught in a similar situation) are entirely to blame. I generally avoid information related to games I'm looking forward to; I don't watch trailers, I don't read previews. I'll watch gameplay videos and read a few reviews once the game is released just to see if it's a dud or not, but otherwise I don't go out of my way to actually find information. Even still, I absolutely despise the fact that publishers treat video games like they're the deepest, darkest scientific finds of the millenium, and that people can actually lose their jobs because some small fact was leaked three days before the publisher deigned it ready (entire games leaking is another problem entirely). Lack of transparency is, to my mind, not a healthy thing for the industry to embrace as wholeheartedly as it has.

Hear, hear man. I don't know why people are increasingly prone to calling out "racism" at anything and everything. It seems absolutely like looking for something to scream about and draw attention. Gaming forums have become ugly places, even ones heavily supervised like here at the Escapist. There's no place to discuss interesting ideas or subjects because there's always someone who hasn't had their rage that day and needs somewhere to raise a storm. In my opinion (and it really is just an opinion, so evidence whatsoever) that the whole "politically correct" culture has gone so far that it doesn't allow issues to melt away. By having to verbally tiptoe around using correct terms (like, you can't call someone who is blind "blind", that person is "visually impaired") the issue at hand is not allowed to become norm. People have to be always on alert unless they want to get sued or something.

Anyway, I'd let Ubisoft more or less of the hook this time.

I do not even know what to say. Apart from that another pointless stupid controversy about absolutely irrelevant thing as game box art. These people are sure making difference.

I am astounded some people jumped to the same conclusion. Still the only effect this thing will have is higher sales because I am guessing the great majority of the people hearing this news don't think the cover is racist, kind of how Dragon's Crown promoted itself through that Kotaku "piece". It's more important than ever to have news that can't be twisted into negative publicity, especially since people will jump to the conclusion that the game is an abomination the first chance they get. For example the rumors of Dark Souls 2 having an easy mode or being made for casual players or being like Skyrim, which were completely false.

This is where companies need to step in and clarify things. Ideally Far Cry 4 should have been revealed at E3 to provide proper context for the images, but Ubisoft did fuck up there.

Casual Shinji:
I gonna have to absolve Ubisoft of all the blame here.

The cover was clearly depicting evil/corrupt dude sitting carelessly on a throne while oppressing a native/henchman. They're apparently to blame for not spelling it out, which says more about the times we live in. Where unless we're given "the full story" our minds automatically conclude that it must be advocating racism.

Same here, it was simple enough to figure out. Damn alarmists.

The funny thing is I've only really just seen the Limited edition cover until now. When I heard farcry 4 cover controversy and only seeing the picture of the white guy prim and proper looking in a pink suit surrounded by guns obviously most likely the bad guy after the cover of Farcry 3... I just thought everyone was upset about the villainizing of an homosexually male again. Hmm must have watched to much matpat.

I just sorta thought back to Far Cry 3's box art and just thought the main guy was the villain and that the guy he's dominating is possibly the player character. Given the depiction of pink suit looking like an asshole (one with style perhaps) I feel like I would have figured him being the villain even without knowing the previous games box art.

Part of the problem is there is a sub-set of people and sites who go out of their way to create these kinds of controversies. Places like Kotaku thrive on this kind of half-heard nonsense and many people seem all too eager to latch onto the next 'controversy' and wave some banners around without really thinking it through. The community also needs to learn that depicting controversial things is not automatically 'racist', just as the games industry needs to learn that if you are going to depict controversial things then it needs to be done with context and tact. It would be people like calling "12 years a slave" 'A racist movie'. It depicts racist actions yes but it does so in service of it's laudable goals.

It seems like everything is labeled sexist or racist by some people online. Like i said, i think this was largely due to a group of people who go looking for any kind of controversy online. I don't think a lot of those social justice warrior types know how to separate actual racism or sexism out anymore. It's banded about so often they get their hackles up over anything and everything.

Lastly i think that fact is making some people numb. It's the cry wolf effect, if you keep shouting everything is racist or sexist them you are just going to get tuned out. If you try and mobilize people over incredibly minor issues they are not going to want to associate with you when something worthy does happen. It cheapens the debate when people who just like controversy or want to look morally superior kick up dust over what is a very uncertain case of potential, potential racism.

Yeah, I was going to come in here and debate how people seem to find controversy wherever they look, and that you'd have to be looking for a racial undertone on purpose to find it... but it seems the posts before me handled that just fine.

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