“Our story is political.” That’s what Far Cry 6 narrative director Navid Khavari had to say, seemingly in response to criticisms of Ubisoft’s long-standing belief that their games are not political.
It’s a wild statement in an industry where the biggest companies avoid the word “politics,” for fear of blowback from parts of videogame fandom. And despite the fact that Ubisoft has published games around politically charged themes like the rise of the police state (Watch Dogs Legion), religious extremism (Far Cry 6), terrorism (Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell) and narco-police work (Ghost Recon Wildlands), the company generally insists these games are not political, or “neutral.”
Following the big gameplay reveal last weekend for Far Cry 6, narrative director Navid Khavari told The Gamer, “We realized [Cuba] is a complicated island and our game doesn’t want to make a political statement about what’s happening in Cuba specifically.” Gaming outlets were quick to report Khavari was delivering the same old corporate party line. That once again, Far Cry shies away from politics.
Far Cry 6 is a game that features a wiener dog in a wheelchair aiding in tactical takedowns and also lets you disc-murder a guardia civil to the sounds of the Los Del Rio hit, “Macarena,” but it’s not unreasonable to ask what the game has to say about leftist revolutions or the relationship between revolutionary governments and neo-colonial powers.
Far Cry 6 might not be directly about Cuba, but however its story game turns out, it will reflect on what the developers could have to say about Cuba, albeit indirectly. Which is why Khavari’s statement on Ubisoft’s official site that “our story is political” is welcome. You can read the full, unabridged text from the post itself, titled “The Politics of Far Cry 6.”
Khavari writes, “There are hard, relevant discussions in Far Cry 6 about the conditions that lead to the rise of fascism in a nation, the costs of imperialism, forced labor, the need for free-and-fair elections, LGBTQ+ rights, and more within the context of Yara, a fictional island in the Caribbean. My goal was to empower our team to be fearless in the story we were telling.”
According to Khavari, the team “worked incredibly hard” and “tried to be careful about how we approached our inspirations,” noting that creative collaborators were sought out who could “speak personally to the history and cultures of the regions” that inspired them and brought on people who could examine the sensitivity of Far Cry 6’s storytelling.
These remarks shouldn’t immunize Far Cry 6 from criticism regarding its narrative when it releases this October. But they are a welcome change from the usual messaging we receive from Ubisoft. Only time will tell whether Ubisoft sustains this kind of message, but I appreciate Khavari’s statement that, “It is not for me to decide if we succeeded.”
“If anyone is seeking a simplified, binary political statement specifically on the current political climate in Cuba, they won’t find it,” Khavari added. “I am from a family that has endured the consequences of revolution. I have debated revolution over the dinner table my entire life. I can only speak for myself, but it is a complex subject that should never be boiled down to one quote.”