I started to write this post after seeing Roger’s post on the complications of ethical gaming, which followed Wolfy’s post on the same subject, although it turns out I don’t have anything to add to what they said. Just go read their posts and imagine me nodding along in agreement. It’s complicated, and it’s personal.
But beyond simply agreeing with them, I suppose I felt compelled to continue with this post to acknowledge that yes, I know, I’ve played a lot of Ubisoft games this year, and I’ve enjoyed the heck out of them*, even while Ubisoft Corporate has been under fire for gross social and ethical malfeasance. Rest assured that I’m aware of the moral dilemmas and it does factor into my personal decision-making processes, alongside many other things.
But the bottom line is that I’m much more pragmatic than idealistic, especially in my rapidly advancing age. I usually don’t have any difficulty distinguishing between individual actions and the corporations or brands they represent. As others have pointed out, Ubisoft is not just a handful of highly-paid out-of-touch corporate executives, but also an army of less-paid employees just trying to pay the rent.
Beyond that, I don’t necessarily believe that making a monetary transaction with a business entity, or not, is the most powerful or meaningful of moral judgments. Meaning that I don’t experience any cognitive dissonance over buying a mass-produced game while simultaneously decrying the behavior of individuals who worked on that game.
While I have no moral qualms about playing Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry or The Division games myself, I have enough sense to recognize that it might be socially costly to talk about Ubisoft games in public right now. That’s the main reason why I stopped posting about my Assassin’s Creed franchise playthrough, and haven’t uploaded any of the seemingly hundreds of Assassin’s Creed videos I recorded (yet, at least), and felt like I should say something about this, especially right after posting about spending the extravagant sum of eight dollars for The Division 2, which, for the record, is the entire sum of money I’ve spent on Ubisoft since all the bad news started breaking.
I should add that I make no judgments on anyone who does choose to boycott games or companies for whatever reason. In this crazy world, if you find comfort and satisfaction in sticking it to the man, so to speak, by all means, go for it. If buying a game feels bad, it’s okay to pass on it. It’s a personal decision. I’ll make my own personal decisions, and respect everyone else enough to make theirs.
To be honest, many of the games I’ve played this year have been much more about giving myself a project to keep my brain busy enough that it doesn’t wander to other subjects that aren’t necessarily healthy. (Like dwelling on the uncontrollable impending implosion of the United States, which seems to be less fantasy and more a rapidly accelerating reality with every passing day.) The concerns of my own personal well-being are far more immediate to me on a daily basis than idealistic pursuits against Ubisoft or any other corporations.
- Well, except for some of the later Assassin’s Creed games where they sort of forgot they were making Assassin’s Creed games.