Creating Controversy: No, An Upcoming EA Game About Militarized Police Doesn't Need To React To Ferguson, MO

from the imitating-life dept

As the Ferguson, MO saga continues to unfold, there are certainly lessons to be learned. An overly-militarized police force coupled with the oppression of free speech and the press aren't good ways for managing an angry population, for instance. Conversely, a police force that actually connects and serves with the community they're tasked with policing produces far better results. And, of course, we're all forced to have yet another discussion about race-relations in this ostensibly free and equal country of ours. These are good conversations to have.

Strange calls to video game companies that will be releasing a long-produced game featuring militarized police, insinuating that they must somehow be cognizant of Ferguson now that it's happened, are not useful in any way. That link serves as the kind of Kotaku article that features the gaming website occasionally going completely off the rails and twisting itself into angsty-wrong for reasons unknown to this writer. The piece starts with some of the frightening images we've all seen from Ferguson and then tailspins into this:

Into a world where Ferguson has now happened, where people around the world are confused and outraged at this type of police appearance and presence, EA is going to release a video game about heavily-armed police blowin' shit up on the streets of the USA. Nathan wrote about people's concerns (and EA's responses) with Battlefield Hardline's subject matter earlier this year, but that was a piece inhabiting a vacant plot of the media and cultural landscape, where the only thing present were those concerns. Now, we have some reality to sit alongside them.
Ah, yes, fantastic point. The company that made a fictional game set in real-world American locales must now be concerned because said game features aggressive and militarized police and Ferguson just happened! Because prior to Ferguson, police were never militarized. Before Ferguson, a militarized police forces had never scared the shit out of everyone. That whole thing after the Boston Marathon bombing where the police shut down a major city and rolled SWAT tanks through the streets? Never happened, yo. Police brutalizing civilians wasn't a thing until Missouri.

Except that none of that is true. The game is a work of fictionalized entertainment and, just because the subject matter might somehow remind some folks of a police issue this country is facing, there isn't a whole lot to do from EA's standpoint. As this article admits, before then wishing upon a rainbow that somehow EA would treat their game product like not-a-game product.
So what are EA to do? Well, there's not much they can do, or to be honest anyone should ask them to with regards to Hardline. The game was announced months ago and is well on its way to being completed...What I'd hope EA do, however, and this goes for all video game publishers, is to take the subject matter a little more seriously next time they want to approach it. There's a deeply unsavory element to casting police as assault rifle-toting warriors, one that in the wake of Ferguson - and its inevitable successors - video game companies would do well to remember and be a little more careful with.
I mean, you can say that if you want, but then you had damned well better be calling for the same thing when it comes to the issue of crime in this country and Grand Theft Auto, the issue of war in this country and something like a third of the games ever produced, the issue of animal cruelty and trades-workers in this country and the Mario Bros. franchise. Or, instead, we could realize that slamming makers of entertainment and art for not flinch-reacting to the news of the day, even really important news, is probably a silly thing to do.


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Aug 2014 @ 8:33pm

    Kumail Nanjiani has a bit about making the best of a similar situation.

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