Why People Aren't Picking Up Some Of This Year's Games

Sometimes it seems as if the end-all-be-all metric we use to determine if we will purchase something is "fun." In actuality, there are things about a game that might make someone think twice about purchasing it — and they have nothing to do with how the game plays or how fun it is.

Recently I noticed a lot of talk on Twitter about Far Cry 3, and how some people didn't feel comfortable about how it depicted race. Some of these folks were declaring that they wouldn't purchase the game for that reason, though they admitted that the game otherwise looked good.

As you might know, the premise of Far Cry 3 sees a group of white kids partying on an island, when suddenly things turn bad — and that's not just because pirates take them captive.

John Walker delves into the issue of race a bit over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

Because Far Cry 3, well, it's a bit racist, isn't it?

I said, rather flippantly, that the people of this island are the race they are, because it's the island they're native to. It is what it is, essentially. And that's the case — that's really not the issue here. It had to be set somewhere. The issue is the horribly worn tropes it so lazily kicks around when it gets there. As it is, you have the simple-folk-natives, and the immigrant white men with their mixture of South African and Australian accents. And one black guy. White people ask you to get involved in enormously elaborate machinations, ancient mysteries, and local politics. Locals ask you to help them kill endangered species, find their missing daughters, and point out when their husbands are gay. Essentially, the locals behave as if they're helpless without you, but when you wield their tattoo-based magical powers then true greatness appears. And it's here that the problems really kick in.

There's a term for it. It's "Noble Savage". And it also falls under the remit of the "Magical Negro". The trope is that the non-white character possesses mystical insight, magical abilities, or simply a wisdom derived from such a ‘simple life', that can enlighten the white man. And it's pretty icky. The premise relies on the belief that the individual's race is in some way debilitating, something their noble/mystical abilities are able to ‘overcome'.

Walker doesn't think the "spoilt rich white kids having their worlds fall apart" isn't a bad thing, and he talks about this a little between both of his pieces on Far Cry 3.

Still, this got me thinking: what does a game have to do to make someone reconsider buying it? Ideological things that trump fun, I mean.

I decided to ask Twitter. Here's what they said.

[View the story "When fun is not enough" on Storify]

And now I must ask you, dear Kotaku readers: what sorts of things will cause you to boycott a game, and why? Should this ideological stuff matter at all when you're making a purchase?


    The number 1 reason i avoid buying a game is publisher related.

    If a publisher has a history of terrible DLC practices (cut chunks of game out and sell seperately as DLC but this content is on disc or essential to story for extra profit - EA and Capcom come to mind)

    Plus publishers who disrespect the history of IP's and deform the creative vision of the founding creators by making new iterations copy other successful series to chase sales but end up enfuriating fans of the series by dumbing it down and changing the game genre - Square Enix and EA come to mind )

    These are the number one reasons i avoid giving publishers money, besides since i know the games don't live up to the standards they used to i won't be enjoying the game anyway, so they don't deserve to be rewarded for that so they?

    I stick to Publishers/Developers like Level-5, Atlus, Platinum games, Firaxis, Take Two, Mistwalker studios and the like, they seem to understand that being respected for having integrity for excellence is worth more in the long run than following "whats selling heaps now - lets copy that" and endlessly milking a series. I like that they take pride in their work and generally dont release a new title unless it has something new to offer.

    I'm going to disagree with all this Far Cry 3 nonsense. It's not that Jason came in as the whilte empiralist to help out the ooga booga spear chucking natives...

    These natives were warriors with AK's. They could handle themselves in battle. Unfortunately their spirit and resolve had taken a pounding as Hoyt and Vaas had become more and more oppresive and began taking ground. What they needed was a hero figure. Someone who was capable in battle, a figure head. It has nothing to do with Jason being white - he becomes the figure head because he's the only idiot out there not aware of the dangers of taking on Vaas and Hoyt. Dennis and Citra then use Jason's passion for revenge to spur their own war efforts. There's a reason they recruit Jason. They essentially use him as a pawn in a way that they couldn't use their own people.

    I think people are taking it all a little too seriously. Gaming is a hobby, pastime - IT'S MEANT TO BE FUN!
    If my type of fun is offensive to you, then by all means don't participate.
    This idea that games should be politically correct across the board will just end up ensuring we have bland boring games without any emotive content.
    Too often, in this current age, political correctness is forced down everyone's throats. Unless there is a crime - I don;t see the problem. Regulate the content with ratings, don't destroy the content with correctness.

    I remember this big debate when resident evil 5 came out. OMG you are shooting black zombies, racist, racist!!!

    Its set in Africa. The native people are black. Its not racist, its the truth.

    Same as Far Cry 2. Again, set in Africa, the majority of the population is black.

    Just Cause 2 had the same discussion. Except with Asians. Its set in Micronesia. The people are Asian. (I'll admit the accents were a tad over the top)

    You are allowed to say simple facts like this without it being racist. There is no hate being shown here, just facts about regions and the different races who live there.

    I'd say the Author of this article has more issues with race/ethnicity than anyone who developed this game.

    South African accents? Not at all. I've put in 15 hours maybe so far, I'm yet to hear a single South African accent. Heck I can count on one hand the number of Australian accents I've heard in the game. So far the only African character is Dennis, and the menu cleary states he is Liberian.

    Literally ever character in the game who isn't a major named character has a New Zealand accent. For crying outloud, they speak in Maori at times. The shop owners say 'Ka Kite' when you leave, guards in temples say 'Kia Ora Bro' whilst you walk past them. If anything this is one of the best voiced games for an unusal (for the gaming industry accent). They have actually used native NZ speakers, the accents are accurat. Unlike last years Dead Island where the PNG, AU, and NZ accents were very poorly attempted.

    The game is supposed to be set in un-named Polynesia/Micronesia, of course the majority of people within the game world would be of an appropriate decent. It'd be illogical for them not to be.

    Always online DRM has stung me enough in the past that I will never buy any game that I know has it again (excluding MMOs for obvious reasons)

    Whites didnt invent racism and genocide, we just happend to be the best at it between the colonial period up until the fall of Nazi Germany. If you want real racism with real consequences today then try being South East Asian in the Middle East. Try marrying a woman from another tribe in Africa. Try being Black and not a celebrity in any Asian country. Try being Japanese in China etc...

    I think it's trying too hard to allow the reader to think there's something wrong with telling a story with such themes and "stereotypes" involved. When you pick out all of the racial or derogatory content you forget that you are playing a game. If you looked hard enough at a good portion of games, film and literature you'd be able to draw similar conclusions (do you avoid this material too because it depicts inhumane content?). The difference is that while some may be from a more factual/ historical standpoint, others simply tell a story. A sometimes very enjoyable story. And no, not 50 Cent Blood In The Sand... I won't go there.

    Why should I feel guilty about playing games with questionable content? Why should I judge my games purchases on another's acceptance of themes therein? Should this content be censored so that I cannot legally obtain it? Censored as to not "offend" anybody? I wonder how many of these boycotts played CoD: World @ War and loved shooting virtual Japanese soldiers in a glorified American Maple Syrup?

    Is it generally okay if the virtual enemy have waged war on our countries before? With this reasoning it would mean that they still deserve the same treatment, as if the world isn't a more aware and connected whole? Like we haven't already learnt something from our mistakes?

    Or what about any GTA out there. This is the kind of stuff a game like that thrives on... You really think I shed a tear when I accidentally hit an elderly black woman flying around the streets of Los Santos? And why doesn't she own a car?

    Put simply, no. It doesn't need to be magnified - picked apart and portrayed out of context. It's a video game. And I almost wet myself with glee when I heard the Maori accents on the villagers. My missus is Kiwi eh bro. I found an opportunity to hang sh*t on her for that as well. She loved it.

    I've played games that make me uncomfortable because of certain events or objectives (especially those that I have no control over) but never has it made me question my interest in playing. If I'm interested I will play.

    I wholly respect anyone's decision not to play any game for whatever reason but not everybody is so worried about bringing these things to the fore and identifying Far Cry 3 as anything but a crazy trip into a gnarly fictional world. Guns included.

    I could be drunk.

    I'm not buying Assassin's Creed III for several reasons, but one of the big ones is the excessive murdering of British people and making the patriots out to be so glorious and heroic.

    the only reason im not buying FC3 is that I have no money i cant wait to get it and give it a play in a few months hopefuly

      its amazing, if you haven't tried it yet, you will love it so effing mutch.

    Wow I'm honestly surprised to see just how small and petty some of these reasons are. As for the whole racism thing - just people making mountains out of mole hills by twisting facts, motivated by ignorance, prejudice against video games etc. If they haven't even played the game in question yet begin to throw around claims of racism and what ever else, I will dismiss their uninformed, ignorant opinions instantly.

    When all is said and done, It's an amazing game that's received universal acclaim by reviewers and consumers alike....Of course excluding a certain minority who are so ignorant as to think it's just another boring shooter or that's it somehow racist or any other idealogical crap people pull out of their butts these days. If it's just not your type of game, no worries, it's none of my business to force you to like something. But at least form an opinion based on facts and be generally informed. The world is dumb enough as it is.

    For me personally it's pretty simple; if the game is good and the developers/publisher don't treat me, as a consumer with contempt, I will buy the game. Treating me with contempt means region locks, pain in the ass DRM, games that are broken on release day, on-disc DLC, micro-transactions and of course high prices. Oh and lets not forget the obvious - publishers and developers who have an openly shitty, disrespectful attitude towards consumers. You could even go as far as to include retailers in that last part - Gerry Harvey for example. No doubt his mouth has caused more than a few lost sales. But hey, importing bypasses that and high prices.

    All in all, generally idealogical crap isn't going to stop me from playing a great game.

    Uplay = Avoid/Pirate. I accidentally bought Driver San Fransisco with uplay rubbish, never again.

    Not racist? Seriously? SPOILERS: All 3 of the main 'native' characters either turn on you and kill you, or try to kill you

    Plus the whole killing animals for crafting is sick. Hunting and killing animals for entertainment is psychopathic behaviour IMO.

    Last edited 09/12/12 1:27 am

    I avoid a game because it looks a bit shit for my tastes....anyone?

    I rarely find a sufficient reason to completely boycott a game. I've been tempted, mainly due to excessive launch DLC, but this is usually in sequels, and the DLC is usually included in the CE/LE, so if I was planning to go for that anyway then excessive launch DLC doesn't affect me; if I wasn't going to get the CE anyway, then I wait until I see a cheaper copy, and ignore the DLC.

    It's more common for me to just lose interest in a game, than actively boycott it. I don't boycott games like CoD or Pokemon, I just ignore them because they have shown to me over the course of past games that they don't change sufficiently to warrant playing again.

    The downside to my attitude, however, is a very large backlog...

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