Ubisoft seems to be one of those game companies with a passion for self-destruction. I mean, when one looks back at their record, how could anyone feel differently? Not only did they come up with one of the most hated, most draconian, and ultimately, most failed DRM schemes imaginable, but they also have a way of rubbing people the wrong way with inappropriate political comments. For example, recall the forthcoming title Rainbow Six: Patriots, a game that turns a Tea Party-like political movement (the "True Patriots") into domestic terrorists, including giving players the chance to play a hostage with an attached suicide vest. Yeah. Can you say tasteless? Sigh. I guess I could say something here like 'what do you expect from a French company?', but do I really need to at this point?
Well, today Ubisoft decided to dig itself a little deeper into its favorite politically inappropriate hole with two bizarre items. First up: did you know that George Washington was a tyrant? Well, according to the first bit of DLC for Ubisoft Montreal's popular Assassin's Creed 3 title, he might well have been....
Assassin's Creed 3's 'Tyranny of King Washington" is described as the following:
It’s 1783 and the American Revolution is over, our hero, Ratonhnhaké:ton, awakens from an unsettling dream to find that despite his efforts to deliver justice in the newly-founded United States of America, a new king has been crowned – George Washington. Blinded by a thirst for unlimited power, Ratonhnhaké:ton must dethrone the tyrant and return freedom to the land.
Okay, to be fair, this sounds like just some wacky DLC, something common in gaming. However, seeing how Ubisoft is a French company, I am more inclined to see a bit of mischief here, Lafayette notwithstanding.
Just kidding. :) But others are looking askance at this.
But on top of this (non-issue), another bit of Ubisoftian (I just invented that term) political mischief was found in a gameplay demo of their forthcoming cyberpunk title, Watch_Dogs. Watch the first few minutes of this (admittedly awesome) video for some sly political commentary:
Did you notice the panhandling "Iraqi war veteran"? Hmm. I was prepared to let that slip...okay, I wasn't going to let that slip. Period. It was a clear political statement (recall the intense opposition from France & Canada against the Iraq War). But if that wasn't bad enough, did you then notice how the next guy is described as a "Pro-Life Lobbyist" and "Tobacco Company Executive"? Yeah, no coincidence there. I mean, why didn't Ubisoft go the extra inch and describe him as a Pro-Life Lobbyist, Tobacco Company Executive, and Neo-Nazi Rally Organizer at the same time? Just so we could be crystal clear on this guy's hypocritical moral compass, you know. It is interesting that it is this fella's bank account, and not any of the other people on the street, that the main character chooses to hack for $450. But it's okay. His target was an evil "Pro-Life Lobbyist" AND "Tobacco Company Executive" after all.
Weren't there any "Pro-Choice Lobbyists" and "Failed Solar Energy Corporate Executives" around to hack? Do you think we might find some of those in Watch_Dogs? I could be wrong, but I wouldn't expect a combination like that in this Ubisoft title.
In gaming, like the rest of the media, left-wing political bias is often found in what is implied rather than voiced. It is a sly technique that allows someone to get their point across without having to defend a clearly stated opinion. I suspect that this is what is going on here.
Again, though, like the Washington DLC, this is not the end of the world. It does represent some left-wing political commentary surreptitiously introduced into a game - something I believe to be an alarming trend (why 'alarming'? Because I don't want Leftists to wreck gaming like they have wrecked every other medium they have touched). Still, I am looking forward to Watch_Dogs, assuming it actually comes to the PC (seeing how this vid was released in conjunction with today's reveal of the new PS4, I would not be surprised to later learn that this might be an exclusive to Sony). We have yet to get a really good open-world cyberpunk game, and Watch_Dogs looks like it could well be it. Plus, to be fair to Ubisoft, they have been on a roll lately with their well received Assassin's Creed 3 and Far Cry 3 (I raved about that game here). Ubisoft might be (political) jerks at times, but they have proven that they still know how to make some damn fine games.
PS: Yes, the title of this post is a bit hyperbolic, but so are "pro-life tobacco executives".... ;)