The So-Called Controversy of Far Cry 5
Controversy is not a new concept in video games. In the last few decades, video games have held some of the most controversial moments in media attention for depicting acts of barbarism that are clearly not acceptable. 2009’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 saw players tasked with slaughtering an airport full of Russian civilians, an atrocity that was globally offensive. 2013 saw an uprising of controversy with the rebooted Tomb Raider series at the implication Lara Croft was about to be raped. The Far Cry series itself has notoriously been in headlines over the years for its arguably offensive depictions of killing indigenous people, rape, and slavery to name a few indiscretions. These are all taboo subjects; the kind of thing we hope to ignore. We can justify that these inconceivable acts are acceptable because they are in a game, much like we can accept them in a movie because it “isn’t real.” So when I heard that the upcoming Far Cry 5 is a title again surrounded by controversy I had to wonder just what terrible and heinous act could possibly draw so much criticism. What I found left me shaking my head in disgust, not at Ubisoft, but those who find this game personally offensive.
For the first time in the Far Cry series, the game is set in the good old USA. While it isn’t new for a video game to have Americans as the villain – although it is rare – a number of people have taken to the internet to express their outrage at Ubisoft for making the antagonists a fundamentalist cult based out of Montana. An excessive amount of people are screaming bloody murder about boycotting Far Cry 5 because it is offensive, as the cult clearly has heavily Christian overtones. How do I know that this is the problem? Because the people up in arms and red in the face are the ones who are telling us explicitly that they are Christian and find this cult offensive.
Now, I can understand if you are offended because – much like the Modern Warfare 2 airport incident – the objective of the game was to murder innocent people. If that was the case, absolutely, it’s going too far. But this isn’t a group of Christians; this is a group of faith-based cultists. The only reason you should have to be offended is if you are one of them. Are you hunting down those who don’t share your faith, taking prisoners, murdering people, and carving words like “sinner” into their flesh? If so, then by all means, be offended. But those who are losing their minds on the internet need to take a step back and ask, ‘Why am I offended?’ Clearly, you can tell the difference between those of devout Christian faith and a murderous cult, regardless of its founding, right?
Ignore the fact that this is literally just a damn video game for a second; if this is an insult to your faith should this not motivate you to stop the cultists? To play the game and stop the fictional people who are offensive? Would you boycott the game if it was any other religion? These are the bad guys and every story needs a villain to despise. So why all the outrage? Because for once it’s a group of American, White, faith-based extremists. A sizable portion of the proudly god-fearing USA has been consumed by hate-mongering of anyone that isn’t a white Christian male. The hate-filled rhetoric is based on fear, and people find comfort in what they know – their faith. So when the idea of that faith’s purity could be questioned it is immediately offensive, regardless of how loosely related it may be. Video games have been populated for ages with villains of varying races and religions, notably the ones easiest to consider evil based on current and historical events: Russia, Germany, Vietnam, even fictional foreign people – so long as they aren’t American.
This cult in Far Cry 5 is unique in its design, but not its concept. Cults like this have existed and do exist to this day, but people are not offended that they exist; they are offended when they are confronted with their existence. These people screaming at their monitors can’t accept that the words of their faith could be molded for evil and they believe somehow the rational thing to do is yell at Ubisoft for showing them a legitimate and very real kind of villain. The distinction between Christianity and this cult is the same as Islam and the Islamic State: one is a legitimate faith practiced by a number of people who only wish to lead a good life, and the other is an isolated collection of radicals bent on the suffering of others. Seeing as so many people can’t tell the difference between Islam and the Islamic State, maybe it isn’t a surprise that these same individuals are offended by seeing a fictional radical faith very loosely related to their own beliefs.
This level of outrage has rarely – if ever – been reached surrounding the ethnicity and faith of a video game villain, and it’s pitiful to see so many people are offended as if they identify with the antagonists. This is the least controversial decision in the Far Cry series and it’s appalling that people are more upset about the fact these are white American pseudo-Christians than any previous race or religion depicted as evil. Those who are offended over Far Cry 5 probably didn’t give a second thought to any villain that doesn’t fit the white/American/Christian mold. It shows the true colors of those who can’t get off their high horse and see this for what it is; a fucking video game.