The new game, Mafia III, is taking racism to task in the open-world crime game, where you play a black man in fictional 1968 New Orleans. The game’s creators wanted you to vicariously experience the racism of that era as you run and gun your way through the ’60s.
But while they didn’t want to pull their punches and give the decade a pass, they didn’t want outraged letter-writers to accuse them of racism. So they put this little disclaimer at the beginning to cover their asses.
Mafia III takes place in a fictionalized version of the American South in 1968.
We sought to create an authentic and immersive experience that captures this very turbulent time and place, including depictions of racism.
We find the racist beliefs, language, and behaviors of some characters in the game abhorrent, but believe it is vital to include these depictions in order to tell Lincoln Clay’s story.
Most importantly, we felt that to not include this very real and shameful part of our past would have been offensive to the millions who faced – and still face – bigotry, discrimination, prejudice, and racism in all its forms.
Creators get accused of racism or sexism all the time simply for including it in the final product (think Quentin Tarantino). Game journos called Deus Ex: Mankind Divided problematic for exploring a futuristic allegory for apartheid, and Kotaku even labeled Batman: Arkham City a “sexist game” because the evil thugs call cat woman a bitch.
So it’s almost sad that the Mafia III developers felt they had to say they thought the racism in the game was abhorrent in order to avoid criticism. The game’s chief creator, Charles Webb, even made it clear in pre-release interviews he wanted to use the game as a way to combat modern racism.
But it seems like the racism was well handled in the final version, and the game’s creators have nothing to apologize for.