This contains minor story spoilers!
I find the racism accusations in Far Cry 3 very interesting. I feel like some people read Jason's character as the super-powered white savior in a world of colored natives who are either evil pirates or helpless natives. And other people (myself included) read Jason as a clueless loser who aspires to be on the same level as the natives and spends the game growing to be more like them and less like a white loser.
Here's some evidence that Jason is a clueless loser who aspires to be one with the natives:
- He starts the game very scared and unsure of himself
- Dialogue says he doesn't know what he is doing.
- Thinks skinning animals is gross.
- One of the goals of the first half of the game is to be accepted by the tribe.
- Jason needs to learn the tribe's ways to save his friends (the tattoo, path of the warrior etc. )
- The entire gameplay loop involves growing, gaining skills and becoming more powerful. You even get experience points.
And here is some evidence that Jason is a white savior:
- Despite being the biggest noob on the island, only Jason can stop Vaas and co. If the the Rakyats are the bad asses and Jason is trying to get on their level, then shouldn't the Rakyat already have the skills to stop Vaas?
- From the beginning of the game, Jason can use any gun he picks up, from pistols to assault rifles to rocket lawn chairs.
- He's also pretty damn good at sneaking behind people and running them through with a machete.
- The natives sure need Jason to solve a lot of their problems for them. I'm looking at you, side quests.
- Jason goes from trying to be a member of the tribe to "leader" pretty quickly. (I can see why Dennis is upset.)
Why is it that some folks read the story as dumb and slightly racist, while others read the story as well developed and not at all racist? I think it all adds up to an interesting case of cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is a term that usually is used (in games) to describe how the game's story can stand in stark contrast the the gameplay, which results in some tension during the overall experience. The most common example in games is where the hero is presented as sympathetic or likeable despite murdering hundreds of people (Nathan Drake or Niko Bellic). This is because the story presents the hero as one way, and the gameplay presents him as another. But I mean, what are you going to do? Have GTA without killing people?
But in this case, it's a little different. The story presents Jason as helpless. But his actual skills are linked to ours as a player, through the gamepaly. Most of us are really good at FPS because we have been playing them a while, so once Jason gets a gun, we go to town and are able to kill a lot of enemies. But then we are confused why Jason (the character) is so good at shooting. But on the other hand, Far Cry 3 is really fun because the controls are so tight and easy to use. If they handicapped the player to make Jason feel like more of a loser at the beginning, would that have made a better game? The quests make the npcs look helpless, but I (the player) want to be the one that goes on adventures! Not the side characters! I want to be the one to beat Vaas, so of course I'm the one who should do it! I want to be the hero! So what then, tell a different story? Maybe this is the story they wanted to tell or they felt it was the best story to tell. So change the game? Maybe this was the funnest game they could make! ( It was pretty fun) A person could go mad trying to balance these two elements!
I felt Far Cry and Spec Ops had two interesting takes on cognitive dissonance. In Far Cry, the game is awesome and the story is... lukewarm. In Spec Ops, the story is awesome and the game is...meh. Here's hoping someone will make a game where story and gameplay really can work well together.
How do you guys feel? Did you think it was racist? Or that the story and the gameplay didn't add up? Or did you think the story was good?
This turned out a lot longer then I planed...