The Socialist 9 September 2020 |
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Video game developer attacks Black Lives Matter
Ubisoft, (Click to enlarge)
Isaac Maskill-Watts, Derby Socialist Party
Just two months ago, French video game giant Ubisoft joined the hollow chorus of corporations exclaiming that black lives matter. But its latest mobile game under a flagship franchise, Tom Clancy's Elite Squad, features a thinly veiled attack on the Black Lives Matter movement.
In the introduction to the game, we are greeted with a scene stating that an organisation called Umbra "has emerged to take advantage of escalating civil unrest," promoting an "egalitarian utopia." This is cover for its desire to build a "new world order" using terrorist attacks to generate more chaos, and "weaken governments" by hacking social media to discredit world leaders.
Just in these few snippets, we can see Ubisoft making a clear and distinct link between recent protests and terrorist actions, and even linking it to (mostly right-wing) conspiracy theories.
However, this did not link them clearly enough for Ubisoft! The logo of the villainous organisation is the black solidarity fist used by the workers' movement and black liberation groups.
The player's mission is to operate an elite squad of assassins, authorised by world leaders to work outside the law, to "put an end to Umbra's campaign of chaos."
Since its release, Elite Squad has faced a significant backlash online. Ubisoft has agreed to remove the solidarity fist from the introduction of the game. But this still leaves the rest of the parallels drawn between anti-racist and anti-capitalist protests, and shady terrorist groups.
The major players in the industry feel they can publish games like this with little to no accountability to the world outside of the gaming sphere. We've known for a long time, for example, that these companies overwork their staff, sometimes with 100-hour work weeks before a game is due to launch, referred to as 'crunch'.
Staff are underpaid for their time, while chief executives are among some of the highest-paid. Mobile games in particular use underhanded tactics, including gambling mechanisms, to squeeze ever more money from vulnerable players, sometimes even children.
Capitalism is prepared to use every means to undermine opposition to the profit system. This includes the exploitative, multibillion-dollar video game industry.