“Deus Ex: Mankind Divided” creators Eidos Montreal and Square Enix are under heavy fire on social media due to the controversial concept art from the “Deus Ex” game sequel.
The artwork in question shows a near-future wherein a banner raised by protesters in Moscow reads “Augs Lives Matter,” an obvious nod to the current racially charged political environment and the involvement of the very significant anti-racial abuse movement “Black Lives Matter.”
“Black Lives Matter” has been a force of change throughout the United States, bringing people together from all races, creeds, and countries to unified take a stance against the oppression of African-Americans chiefly by the American Police.
It is a sensitive issue, and riots ensued do to it, and even peaceful protests, have seen casualties. The abuse has been real and visceral for years, even after the abolition of slavery and apartheid.
For Eidos Montreal to take this political movement as an inspiration for their game has proven to be a double-edged sword. Naturally, as is the way of the internet, there is immense uproar and a harsh condemnation of the developer’s decision to include such an allegory.
But, hasn’t “Deus Ex” always been about borrowing real world sensitive issues of oppression and its ilk and using them in context with their in-game environment to create a sense of genuine political atmosphere, something which is not uncommon in stories, from movies to books, it has been done before.
Dystopian literature has fed and prospered upon that very method. So, dismissing the game’s “Augs Lives Matter” arc as a mere jumping on the trend to get attention correct? If it were a game without a history of such instances, then surely that would’ve been.
Moreover, augmented people in our real world are discriminated on a day-to-day basis. Yes, the augmented people in the game are more enhanced than we are in the reality, but it is a conflict of the future presented.
When we can use “All Lives Matter”, then why not “Augs Lives Matter”? This is not belittling of the supremely imperative movement, rather a logical question. After all, Eidos Montreal didn’t downplay the movement, and intention precedes action. And when concerning the game, the creators clearly intended it to represent the in-game political issues.
But again, using this inspired movement in a marketing material can come off as insensitive, especially when people are still not accepting the seriousness of games and consider them tools for fun alone.
Video games are interactive stories, just like literature and cinema is, and there are many in the industry who intend to contribute to tackling issues in the real world through this.
It would be wise to wait and watch what the company says to clarify and whether they are genuine and not. But, for now, I am inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, chiefly because the game has always been politically charged.