By Andre Jones
We’ve seen the video game market expand to include games, not only for children, but to also include games aimed at the adult demographic. The newly released video game Mafia III is no exception. However, unlike many other adult themed video games on the market – this one has white people fuming.
In this game, protagonist Lincoln Clay, while on his mission, goes up against the infamous – and very real violently racist organization – the Klu Klux Klan. Released just this past Friday, the game has already sparked outrage from Klan sympathizers. Comments on various social media platforms betray their anger and distorted sense of fairplay (authors names were blocked out), “What if it was a white dude blasting black panthers?” one man wrote – ignoring (or ignorant to) the fact that it was, indeed, white “dudes” that actually did “blast” the Black Panthers. Another wrote, “All lives matter… or manybe [maybe] not all, just some ones”, again continuing the narrative of victimization that some have felt by the controversial scene in this video game.
Mafia III’s creator, studio Hangar 13, sought realism with regards to setting the stage for the game. Hangar 13 Studio Head and Creative Director Haden Blackman spoke to Playstationlifestyle.net, “We wanted to capture the sense of time and place…[…] One of our first decisions was to create our own version of New Orleans – New Bordeaux…”
In context, the scene seems appropriate, as the main character is a Black man attempting to survive in a highly racist 1960’s “New Bordeaux” – a historically dangerous time to be a Black citizen in America. When asked about including the volatile racial climate of the day into the game’s schema, Blackwood explained, “in terms of the turbulent nature of the time period, we did not shy away from anything because we wanted to create a game that feels authentic and cinematic. The realities of the time and place can’t be ignored because they would be part of Lincoln’s story.”
Not the first video game with a decidedly racial theme to hit the market, Mafia III is preceded by a game called Ethnic Cleansing, created by white nationalist organization National Alliance and published by its record label Resistance Records. The game, debuting in 2002, allowed players to control a neo-Nazi or a Klan member whose mission was to kill stereotypical African-Americans, Latinos, and Jews – with their biggest and final enemy being Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Hangar 13 does not appear to have created the game with a racial agenda in mind. “Building a good game is difficult regardless of the genre and setting, but building an open world game in a familiar setting and during a familiar time period has its own unique set of challenges. We wanted to capture the sense of time and place, but also wanted to ensure that it never impeded our ability to create compelling gameplay.”
Mafia III is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.