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View Full Version : Disclaimers- Do You Think They Have a Positive Effect?



cawatrooper9
06-01-2017, 10:57 PM
So, apparently Far Cry is getting some backlash from people concerned with the villains in the newest entry. I probably don't need to go into detail, nor do I really think this is the place to do that- if you want to hold that debate, the Far Cry forums have a few thread on it right now.

As a possible way to maybe help appease some of the people who are upset with this, I immediately thought of the disclaimers at the beginning of our own Assassins Creed games. Since Far Cry is apparently dealing with a sensitive subject, perhaps they could use similar disclaimers, too. After all, I'd say that AC has arguably tackled far more sensitive subjects in the past with less controversy.

Do you think a disclaimer could help with this case? Do you think they've been successful in helping keep gamers grounded in the AC series?

Sigma 1313
06-01-2017, 11:47 PM
No, I don't think it works. Look at how people reacted to no playable women in Unity or even (to a much lesser extent) Ned in Syndicate. If people want to complain about something, especially identity politics, they will.

LoyalACFan
06-02-2017, 06:38 AM
No. The disclaimers in AC games are a relic from the AC1 days, when they were about to release a game that could easily be misconstrued as the story of an Arab terrorist killing Christian crusaders, right smack in the middle of George Bush's War on Terror. It was cowardly then, and it's become laughable since. I mean, Syndicate has a disclaimer about gender identity and sexual orientation because it has a transgender NPC with like five total lines of dialogue? Give me a break.

HDinHB
06-02-2017, 08:02 AM
No. The disclaimers in AC games are a relic from the AC1 days, when they were about to release a game that could easily be misconstrued as the story of an Arab terrorist killing Christian crusaders, right smack in the middle of George Bush's War on Terror. It was cowardly then, and it's become laughable since. I mean, Syndicate has a disclaimer about gender identity and sexual orientation because it has a transgender NPC with like five total lines of dialogue? Give me a break.

It grew on me...and it's truly iconic, unique to the AC series. Hoods, hidden blades, and multicultural teams. I even missed it at the opening of the movie.

That said, i don't think anyone who would be offended is going to be placated by it. If someone hasn't figured out they're playing a game by that point, they're unreachable. It was odd when they added on to it, and to cover all the possible offenses, eventually the disclaimer would be as long as the credits.

SixKeys
06-02-2017, 10:04 AM
They probably don't work if the purpose is to deter criticism, but I think the disclaimers have another purpose which is to show that Ubi stands behind its creators. Syndicate had a disclaimer about gender and sexual identities as if to say "BTW, before you go mouthing off on what you view as controversial, keep in mind this game was made by people whose lives are actually represented by the themes therein".

pirate1802
06-02-2017, 10:12 AM
Well, they've become 'iconic' so..

JWRK
06-02-2017, 10:36 AM
It grew on me...and it's truly iconic, unique to the AC series.

The last Hitman had a very similar one, for what it's worth.

wvstolzing
06-02-2017, 11:14 AM
They probably don't work if the purpose is to deter criticism, but I think the disclaimers have another purpose which is to show that Ubi stands behind its creators. Syndicate had a disclaimer about gender and sexual identities as if to say "BTW, before you go mouthing off on what you view as controversial, keep in mind this game was made by people whose lives are actually represented by the themes therein".

I've always had the opposite interpretation; that is, far from being a declaration of commitment, it's just corporate-speak for denying any kind of official stance with respect to any of the game's themes. So it's a way of saying, "this is just a product we'd like to sell; don't take it too seriously"; or a variant of "what do you mean this is [offensive to x]; some of my best friends ('our employees', in this case) are [x]".

If it was Patrice Desilets who drafted the first 'disclaimer', that would have been 'cowardly'; but I don't expect any different from a corporation. Insofar as they seem to have 'commitments' to anything, it's to 'looking non-committal & clean to the public at large; and marketable & attractive to the target demographic', and nothing else. Whenever corporations SEEM to take a stance with respect to social justice/civil rights issues, it's important to remember that the bottom line for them is never those issues themselves.

Having said that, "hey, don't be silly, this is just a game with a balls-to-walls crazy premise (and it's harmful to no one)" kind of is the right response, the real intentions of the party making it notwithstanding.

cawatrooper9
06-02-2017, 02:28 PM
Having said that, "hey, don't be silly, this is just a game with a balls-to-walls crazy premise (and it's harmful to no one)" kind of is the right response, the real intentions of the party making it notwithstanding.

That's kind of where I think I stand.
Looking at one of the disclaimers (let's take a look at Syndicates) we see:
http://i.imgur.com/fq2hvmn.jpg

I think the section that reads:

"... was designed, developed, and produced by a multicultural team of various beliefs, sexual orientations, and gender identities."

is ultimately a good gesture. And even if it's meaningful to just a single person, I'd say that's a good thing. But I think the part that reads:

"Inspired by historical events, this work of fiction..."
is, to me, a little more important. Basically, it's a reminder that while Assassins Creed has its roots in historical fiction, there is certainly an emphasis on the fiction aspect of that. It's certainly not a free pass to do whatever they want, but I think it's a good reminder that the game is meant to simply tell a story and be enjoyed, not to indoctrinate someone into some alternate history or philosophy.

wvstolzing
06-02-2017, 02:44 PM
I think it's a good reminder that the game is meant to simply tell a story and be enjoyed, not to indoctrinate someone into some alternate history or philosophy.

Considering that the game itself draws on various real-life crackpot theories concerning Atlantis, humanity as genetic experiment, bloodlines of the secret ruling elite, etc., it's understandable that they'd want to stress that they aren't in league with the weirdos on YouTube.

cawatrooper9
06-02-2017, 03:00 PM
Considering that the game itself draws on various real-life crackpot theories concerning Atlantis, humanity as genetic experiment, bloodlines of the secret ruling elite, etc., it's understandable that they'd want to stress that they aren't in league with the weirdos on YouTube.

Also a good point- and from two angles.

There are people who aren't into the conspiracy stuff necessarily and may find the games offputting if seen as an endorsement of them.

Then there are the people who take the theories more seriously, who may see fit to be overly (and perhaps unfairly critical) of them if the games were thought to be meant to be more than fiction.

VestigialLlama4
06-02-2017, 05:16 PM
Also a good point- and from two angles.

There are people who aren't into the conspiracy stuff necessarily and may find the games offputting if seen as an endorsement of them.

Then there are the people who take the theories more seriously, who may see fit to be overly (and perhaps unfairly critical) of them if the games were thought to be meant to be more than fiction.

Ubisoft's marketing tends to be very clickbait-y...Darby McDevitt parodied that in BLACK FLAG where Abstergo's entire policy is so transparently Ubisoft's.

FAR CRY 5 is in that mould...it's ambulance-chasing. "You get to hunt down the Yeehaws"...and the reaction and mini-backlash is precisely what they are going for.

The end result will be something safe...Reminds me of this early very-good review (http://www.quartertothree.com/inhouse/news/375/) of Assassin's Creed I:

''There's some progressive anti-book burning hoo-ha near the end, but for the most part, Assassin's Creed carefully tiptoes around the religious issues of the Crusades in specific, and the Middle East in general. Jesus, Mohammed, and Jews are scarcely mentioned, with inoffensive historical factions like Templar and Saracen standing in for the real players, the one who might have had some contemporary relevance...Where are your b--ls, Ubisoft? Talk more about the Prophet, peace be upon Him. Put a Jewish character in the game and let him be reviled. Show the Crusaders as something other than the dudes playing the role of the cops from GTA. Because you know everyone's thinking about it when they see your game. It's a potentially powerful subject, and it's on all our minds, and your pussyfooting around the weak safe choices is a disappointment, particularly when you insist on wrapping your game in a modern-day shell. Assassin's Creed is as aware of today as it is of the 12th Century. Act like it, for God's sake. Because if your love of the setting were expressed in the writing with one tenth of the passion you show for your love of the architecture, Assassin's Creed could have been an experience as memorable as BioShock or Portal."

Now I happen to think the review is a little unfair in general, and I think Bioshock, original and sequels, is overrated trash that is more sub-intelligent and clickbait-y than Ubisoft on their worst day but the whole "play-it-safe" attitude taken there is something that halts and hinders Ubisoft.

They try to make games with a certain artfulness to them...but it never quite goes all the way. BLACK FLAG is an exception...since the game doesn't back away from rooting with the pirates and making the hero and gameplay entirely about piracy.

SixKeys
06-02-2017, 07:44 PM
They try to make games with a certain artfulness to them...but it never quite goes all the way. BLACK FLAG is an exception...since the game doesn't back away from rooting with the pirates and making the hero and gameplay entirely about piracy.

Not sure why this is considered "anti-safe". Pirates are romanticized a lot by modern people, they have an almost mythical status in pop culture which is why they remain popular to this day. People think of them as anti-heroes going against the establishment, which is what many of them were. In other words, why SHOULD Ubisoft want to back away from rooting for the pirates? They marketed the game precisely as the fantasy where you get to be a devilish rogue going your own way, doing whatever you want and give the finger to "the Man". Of course that's an appealing fantasy.

VestigialLlama4
06-02-2017, 08:17 PM
Not sure why this is considered "anti-safe". Pirates are romanticized a lot by modern people, they have an almost mythical status in pop culture which is why they remain popular to this day. People think of them as anti-heroes going against the establishment, which is what many of them were. In other words, why SHOULD Ubisoft want to back away from rooting for the pirates? They marketed the game precisely as the fantasy where you get to be a devilish rogue going your own way, doing whatever you want and give the finger to "the Man". Of course that's an appealing fantasy.

What I mean is that in BLACK FLAG you as a player rob, plunder and kill sailors on naval vessels. That's never happened in any pirate fantasy before.

Like in the Jack Sparrow movies, we never see Johnny Depp actually rob and kill sailors. He's a pirate and adventurer but the only actual piracy we see on-screen is done by others...it's Geoffrey Rush that attacks that town and so on. In the Errol Flynn pirate movies of old, the hero is always some guy who's a gentlemen rogue pirate who has some tragic backstory.

Edward Kenway is a pure pirate...he became a pirate because he was dead poor and wanted riches. He has no compunctions about robbing sailors and vessels. He will attack forts and kill any that stop his way. That's quite a new level.

The game justifies it by using history...i.e. all those sailors are a bunch of scumbags serving slaveowning empires and slavery is legal when piracy isn't. So more or less they become video game nazis. No other pirate story adventure really did explore slavery. Like Sid Meier's PIRATES didn't mention slavery once and it isn't mentioned in the Johnny Depp movies either.

So BLACK FLAG was the real deal, and the most uncompromised of their games. I mean AC1 didn't deal with religion and while it's still a great game, it cannot be called uncompromising. The Ezio games don't deal with Jewish history and antisemitism, nor does it acknowledge Leonardo's gayness in the main games (as Patrice Desilets wanted to at first) and it presents a tourist-y fake view of European architecture, and is way too nice to the Medici. AC3 fudges the whole Native American as protagonist by giving Haytham the first three sequences and having Connor mainly interact with white people and so on...SYNDICATE by merely setting the Assassins amidst Victorian London is a compromise since that's an era they don't logically and aesthetically belong in any meaningful sense...and as for UNITY, well what is there to add that I have not mentioned before.

BLACK FLAG is also their most artful game. With the best writing, and best ensemble casts, and of course in atmosphere, with those folk songs all around.

But generally I think Ubisoft is more or less the company of hipsters...i.e. they want to be cool and up-to-date without the actual risks, stakes and sacrifices. And I think the game versions of Assassin and Templars are conflicts between two kinds of hipsters....

cawatrooper9
06-02-2017, 08:41 PM
No so sure about that.

Doesn't Black Flag pretty much state that the ships you're attacking are military vessels?

Besides, if you want a game where you can attack very helpless merchant vessels, Sid Meiers did it did it way back in 1987, with the version most people know still coming out nearly a decade before Black Flag.

(Huge props to that game, by the way. Any fans of Black Flag who haven't tried it should definitely check it out).