Revised by Pieter Smal
[Editorial Note:] This article contains a lot of reading, links, and images. But it is well worth a read as we jump down the rabbit hole of video game journalism. Boys and girls, grab tinfoil out of the kitchen and make yourself a compulsory tinfoil hat!
A few days ago a rather ‘interesting‘ Far Cry 5 petition popped up on change.org, which you can read here. At the time of writing, the servers were down for maintenance. We will have to see if the petition will still be there when the change.org servers are online again. Below, screenshots of the Far Cry 5 petition and change.org server message.
The petition (available here) is apparently created by a website called Gamers United. When they were contacted on Twitter regarding this petition, they denied any involvement in the creation of the petition. Furthermore, the marketing department at Ubisoft denied any involvement with the petition as a marketing gimmick.
[Note: the entire conversation with Ubisoft can be found here.]
In summary, the names attached to the creation of the petition as well as Ubisoft‘s marketing team denies involvement in the petition. We are left with two other possibilities, the first being a clever troll getting the media to report on events without checking their facts. Poor gaming journalism without substantial research is nothing new (for example, when The Mary Sue was caught red-handed publishing articles without doing any fact checking); there have been a multitude of incident, so I would not discount the Far Cry 5 petition as the work of a troll. Some social justice warriors fell for this petition – hook, line, and sinker – including Rami Ismail.
Rami Ismail was also a part of the “Gamers are Dead” and anti #GamerGate movement. Ironically enough, when it was pointed out to him, he quickly changed his position. It seems that Rami Ismail agrees with fake news when it fits his perspective. Even Zoë Quinn (one of the key people behind the anti-gamer movement) got in on the action, whose fake death threats were confirmed by the FBI because of the lack of any real evidence.
The second (and more compelling) reason behind this petition is the creating of fake outrage for media outlets to report on. We already saw the media reporting on the backlash over the perceived subject matter in the game, which I covered here. More than 16 websites have reported on this petition:
The number of media outlets reporting on the Far Cry 5 petition have been steadily increasing. With your tinfoil hats still on, ponder this: what is the number one thing on the internet internet that drives traffic to your website and get people clicking? The answer is: fake outrage. What better way to support outrage by creating a fake petition and then reporting on it? We already know that some of these publications are well known for colluding on news stories, so it is not outside the realm of possibility that this petition was created for the sake of sensation. So, stay with me on this with the game’s announcement, game trailer, current political climate in America, game journalists, and their websites were hoping for more outrage.
When sensation did not come, some media outlets took it upon themselves to generate outrage of their own. Since day one of this game’s announcement and the faux controversy, I thought this might be a case of feigned outrage for clicks. The entire petition espouses things that #GamerGate and gamers have stood for; it mocks gamers and nerd culture outright by parroting positions we have taken on video games in the past.
The entire petition reads like a person pretending to be somebody else, badly. And despite all of my tinfoil hat jokes, and having read and seen all of the above, am I that wrong in my assumptions? Since we know what the gaming press and media are capable of, I would not put something like this past them.