French gaming giant Ubisoft has issued an apology after equating the iconic Black power fist with a fictional terrorist organization in their new game Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad. The game is the latest in Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s franchise, a popular series of tactical shooter games where players do battle against terrorists across the globe.
In Elite Squad, players face off against anarchist group UMBRA, which translates to “shadow”. The intro video opens with the words, “The world is in an alarming state. Wars, corruption, and poverty have made it more unstable than ever. As the situation keeps worsening, anger is brewing. From between the cracks, a new threat has emerged to take advantage of escalating civil unrest. They are known as UMBRA, a faceless organization that wants to build a new world order. They claim to promote an egalitarian utopia to gain popular support; while behind the scenes, UMBRA organizes deadly terrorist attacks to generate even more chaos and weaken governments.”
Wow, they might as well call the game Tom Clancy’s Antifa Squad. The video eerily parrots right-wing talking points about Black Lives Matter protesters and advocates. Interspersed in the video are soldiers taking aim at a crowd of civilians resembling the BLM protests currently happening across the globe.
Many called out Ubisoft on social media for the offensive imagery which aligns the Black power fist with a fictional terrorist organization:
How did nobody go “hey, maybe it’s a bad idea to release a game in which you lead a government-approved extrajudicial death squad to kill a conspiracy linking BLM-esque imagery with illuminati terrorism”? https://t.co/GEXPbcHTsf
— Rami Ismail (رامي) (@tha_rami) August 29, 2020
Lol literally using the Black Power fist to signify “insincere populist uprising manipulated by secret cabal of chaos agents” great work guys 110% not political pic.twitter.com/XPN2Ya3ZUt
— ‘Eye of the Liger’ Jake Young (@BestJakeYoung) August 27, 2020
— Aaron Stewart-Ahn (@somebadideas) August 29, 2020
Interestingly, the previous trailers suggest a rather generic, cartoony setting.
Did Ubisoft just tack a piece of copaganda last minute to create some buzz?https://t.co/pu6QTBGjpu
— Paolo Pedercini (@molleindustria) August 28, 2020
Remove the icon but the sentiment remains. You made a game about targeting protestors as the real evil as they “hide” behind the ideas of social good…
— Chet Faliszek (@chetfaliszek) August 29, 2020
I think this one comment summed it up pretty well: this is what a narrative written from a fascist perspective would look like. pic.twitter.com/eFaELm09dq
— ThanatorRider ? (@MatthiasRider) August 29, 2020
Can we just get the @Ubisoft Twitter account to just upload a Trump 2020 post and get this shit over with.
Burn that whole company to the ground.
— Justin McDaniel ?️? (@JUSTINtime4aLAF) August 29, 2020
Ubisoft issued an apology, calling the image “insensitive and harmful in both its inclusion and how it was portrayed,” and promised to remove the image of the Black power fist in their next title update:
An update regarding Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad: pic.twitter.com/G6Hb1SO7Gx
— Ubisoft (@Ubisoft) August 29, 2020
An update from the team: pic.twitter.com/BEVRyzKuU6
— Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad (@tcelitesquad) August 29, 2020
But this apology and the removal of the fist doesn’t change the very basis of the game: that fascism is good and protesters are dangerous. It is also deeply upsetting that the premise of the game must have gone through countless meetings, programmers, developers, and quality control, yet no one flagged the gross and dangerous premise of the game.
Or maybe they just don’t care. After all, their games continue to make money. But they also influence a generation of angry young men looking for a cultural scapegoat. It’s all too easy to make the connection between pro-fascist games like Elite Squad and murderous vigilantes like Kyle Rittenhouse and white militia groups currently committing atrocities across the country.
This game only validates the right-wing’s intense hatred and phobia of the fictitious Antifa, a fear that is stoked by Fox News and Donald Trump. Antifa is short for “anti-fascist”, which is something we should be because fascism is bad, remember?
Yes: there are shitty, problematic agitators turning peaceful protests into violent riots. The reason there are protests in the first place is police brutality. There are “very bad people on both sides,” but only one side is firing government-funded rubber bullets at citizens.
— Max Scoville (@MaxScoville) May 31, 2020
So congratulations to Ubisoft, on perpetuating a dangerous and violent stereotype about BLM protesters. You must be very proud.
(via The Verge, image: screencap/YouTube/dustinscout)
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