Journalists Fall for Fake ‘Far Cry 5’ Petition, Bash Video Gamers as Dangerous Racists

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By Ian Miles Cheong | 10:07 pm, May 30, 2017
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A fake petition demanding the cancellation of Far Cry 5 surfaced a few days ago, expressing anger at the game’s apparent portrayal of white American religious extremists as villains. With fewer than a dozen signatures, no one took notice of the petition, and it would’ve been buried until it was shared in game-journalist circles—where it blew up and spawned almost two dozen news articles about “heh, gamers” being racist basement dwellers, just like Hillary Clinton always assumed.

The petition begins with a complaint about Ubisoft’s “multicultural lectures” and rages at “preachy games aimed at degenerates and miscegenators.” It reads like a parody. That’s because it is.

Posted as an open letter, it calls for the game’s developer, Ubisoft, to cancel the game or change it to include violence against Muslims and “inner city gangs” instead of “American Christians.” It also calls for the developer to change the Montana setting to Canada.

Of course, in the game itself, the bad guys aren’t Christians at all—they’re cultists, like the Branch Davidians. They even use a symbol inspired by the Church of Scientology. Furthermore, an expanded version of Far Cry 5’s rogues gallery includes a black man in what many assumed was a white-nationalist Christian organization.

The obviously fake petition even throws in a mention of GamerGate, the consumer-driven movement for ethics in games journalism, and has a line about “the continued rejection of romantic partners when they find out our hobby.” There’s even a threat of “violent repercussions” against Ubisoft should they choose to leave the game unaltered.

To top it off, the author misattributes a quote by neo-Nazi pedophile Kevin Alfred Strom to Voltaire, misspelled as Boltair. Classic.

It’s a very stupid hoax—but it’s one that allows game journalists to pen ludicrous articles taking the letter at face value, as an example of entitled, and deranged video game players who play too much Call of Duty. The bait is taken and it feeds their narrative.

While several publications noted the possibility that it was a product of trolls, sites like the International Business Times and Digital Trends wasted no time decrying “disgruntled gamers” with articles that took the petition at face value. GameReactor blamed “alt-right nationalists” for the post.

On Twitter, video game “diversity consultant” Tanya DePass wrote a long rant about how the treatment of the petition by game journalists, who used it to mock gamers, were simply not treating it seriously enough.

“People keep lol’ing at the line about not being to get laid/dates but fear of violence from rejected dudes is legit,” she wrote, and insisted that “entitled gamers playing oppression olympics ain’t never going to be funny to me.”

Muslim game developer Rami Ismail says he bookmarked the petition to cite in future arguments. “Bookmarking this beauty for when I get told I’m being ‘too sensitive & too offended’ by Muslim antagonists in games,” he wrote. “Reminder: if you can’t tell if something is or isn’t satire, it might as well be true, because it is clearly credible.”

An obvious hoax is “clearly credible” because we live in the post-truth age, apparently.

James Paley, who covered the story on Cogconnected, admitted he knew the story was a hoax but published it anyway. “That’s something I hoped readers would discover on their own, moments after reading the petition in question,” he said.

Writing for Mashable, Adam Rosenberg was no better, and acknowledged the possibility of it being written by a troll, but stated it was “worth engaging.”

Doubling down on the false narrative, game journalist Susan Arendt attacked people who claimed it was fake. She wrote:

Her tweets were not well-received.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.