This post was inspired after reading this article “Racists Outraged that Mafia III allows Players to Kill Klansmen“. The article discusses the controversy about allowing players to kill members of the notorious hate group, KKK, inside the world of Mafia 3. The article shows several Facebook comments of people expressing their outrage.
Instances when real-world identities and social issues become part of virtual spaces, you will always have conflicting view points on how those identities and issues should be presented. The main arguments I hear range from the gaming industry is becoming too PC (politically correct), what if a white person was to do this to a person of color (assuming the protagonist is a white person), and lastly, reflections and/or adaptations of real world issues have no place in virtual spaces for the idea is to escape from reality.
Killing other groups, especially groups that most people in a society despise, is quite common in more action and/or war based videogames. More specifically, action first and/or third person shooter games are inspired by real-world battles and tragedies. Those games try to create an atmosphere in which the player feels as if they are actually in war or feel a connected to the action. The Call of Duty franchise is based around the theme of protecting the United States and/or securing highly valued interests against their foreign invader. Same thing applies to most of the main Battlefield franchise games (Battlefield: Hardline is more of cops vs. robbers) and the Medal of Honor franchise. So, does a videogame cross the line if the player has the ability to kill a historically vial group(s) within the same boundaries where the group and the player originated from? Simply put, is it right for me to kill virtual representations of a hate group even if the existed in reality? Do we as players have a bias towards toward harming other groups of people in virtual spaces if there is no shared identity and/or background?
Some argue that race plays a factor in all of this. The main protagonist, Lincoln Clay, is biracial, but has a dark skin tone. Some suggest that because him being a black man killing members of the Klan is the issue. So, would one feel comfortable if the protagonist was a white, Asian, Hispanic person? Would one have been better if the game allowed players the option to kill members of the Black Panther Party as well?
Think about these questions and brush up on the histories of these groups. The question shouldn’t be is it okay for a black person to kill a white person? We should be asking are we more comfortable killing others who don’t look like us than those who do?