Far Cry 3's lead writer says its colonialism was "an exaggeration of most games"
Speaking to The PA Report, Far Cry 3's lead writer Jeffrey Yohalem has talked about his frustration at the critical and public reaction to the game's story. In fairness to his position, my own reaction was "oh yeah, there's a story." I've been distracted by all the outpost clearing and tiger bothering.
One of the key areas Yohalem highlighted as a misunderstood criticism was the game's apparent following of a white colonialism trope (careful: TV Tropes link). He said that not only was its inclusion intentional, but also meant to be a subversive comment on other games and pop culture.
"It’s a first-person game and Jason is a 25-year old white guy from Los Angeles. From Hollywood," Yohalem said. "So his view of what’s going on on this island is his own view, and you happen to be looking through his eyes, so you’re seeing his view."
"It’s set on an island in the South Pacific, so immediately the thing that comes to mind is the white colonial trope, the Avatar trope. I started with that, and it’s like, ‘Here’s what pop culture thinks about traveling to a new place,’ and the funny thing is, that’s an exaggeration of most games, they just don’t expose it."
He points to games like Grand Theft Auto and Assassin's Creed as colonisation games, and says that, "to take that to its extreme, exaggerating those tropes is how you reveal them. The exaggeration of that trope is what happens in Far Cry 3."
The full interview explores the ways Yohalem was commenting on these genre tropes, referencing events at the game's ending that, he says, reveal the game's true intention.
So, does the subversion work? Is it problematic that the majority of players won't ever see the wool-over-the-eyes reveal, especially if it's not made explicit until the end of a large game? Does one of pop-culture's most persistent and obvious tropes really need highlighting, and if most people miss the point is that not a sign that this particular approach has failed? I'll leave these questions for you to ponder. As I said earlier, I've been too busy mucking about with tigers.