Friday, April 22, 2016

Tom Clancy's Division video by Extra Credit

    This isn't my video but I have to say it reflects a lot of my views. It's always a crapshoot looking for artistic merit in video games, not because the artistic talent and vision isn't there but because so much of it is the product of multiple storytellers working together.

    A strong central vision is needed and when there's not one, you can very often have conflicting, watered down, or just plain dissonant viewpoints expressed. The Division isn't any of these things but in the developers attempts to justify, "shoot-em-up" gameplay in a real-world context, they've unwittingly made a very politically charged game.

    Extra Credit does a good job of expressing how The Division unwittingly throws a lot of commentary onto things like law, order, justice, and acceptable levels of force to use in a crisis. The fact none of this is anything the developers seemed to have cared about is perhaps more distressing than if it had been the product of deliberate effort.

     I've only played a little bit of The Division but my own opinion on the subject is the game could have been a far less problematic game if they'd bothered to throw in the tiniest bit of effort. Instead, the game vilifies just about everyone in the crisis as a potential target because, well, that justifies the shooting gameplay.

     It's ironic because they did a fairly decent job with a similar premise in Infamous almost a decade ago. There, you fought more colorful gangs of evil doers while working to protect the citizens of a post-disaster New York. Here, I didn't feel like a guy trying to protect the citizens of New York and rebuild society so they could survive but more like a gun-toting lunatic waving a badge. It's not exactly a heroic feeling. Which plays into the larger point Extra Credit is making: games make statements even when they're not trying to.

     That's the nature of art.

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