Today’s playthrough of Human Revolution involves ridding your workplace of peaceful Oregon protesters armed terrorists. In most videogames this would be a banal task, given how often we’re asked to gun down hundreds of belligerents, without choice or repercussion. But what happens when you do have a choice to kill, spare or negotiate?
“HUMAN REVOLUTION” (2011)
“NEUTRALIZE THE TERRORIST”
Hello, and welcome to the second episode of this miniseries.
Let’s briefly recap the previous episode, namely who your character is.
You play Adam Jensen, security chief at biotech firm Sarif Industries.
Sarif comes under surprise attack by mercenaries, for no apparent reason.
During the attack, your character is mortally wounded.
To save your life, your employer rebuilds you with biotechnology.
Thus, you’re thrust into a world of choices.
Your body may be a walking billboard for the world’s costliest biotech.
But employing this tech for good or bad is up to you.
In “Human Revolution”, you play the way you want.
Whether you kill people or befriend them, the choice is yours.
Choice, free from prejudice or intimidation, is the bedrock of modern feminism.
This chapter of the game is a good example of that.
In this mission, your boss, David Sarif, pulls you out of sick leave.
Armed radicals have taken over one of Sarif’s factories, in protest of biotech.
David wants you to go in and stop the radicals from causing a PR disaster.
But he defers to your judgement in how you should proceed.
In this conversation, you can decide whether to bring guns with you.
For this playthrough, we do take some weapons, just in case.
However, “Human Revolution” lets you decide whether to use them.
Here, you see I’m knocking out these radicals, instead of killing them.
Now, most videogames reward you for killing.
Killing people is how you show you’re a real man, much like James Bond.
But “Human Revolution” is more mature than that.
It actually rewards you for sparing people’s lives.
In a videogame about choice, having nonviolent options is essential.
This freedom to choose influences the entire mission.
Here, you encounter Zeke Sanders, leader of the radicals.
Zeke has taken a manager hostage, to keep the police from attacking him.
You can try killing Zeke yourself, or apprehending him.
But you can also try negotiating with him to free the hostage.
Negotiating reveals a great deal of complexity to Zeke’s character.
Zeke may sound like a stereotypical Latino hoodlum.
But you soon learn he’s a decorated veteran, with a sense of honour.
As your character points out, Zeke isn’t a drive-by gangbanger.
And killing civilians definitely goes against his moral code.
Clearly, the developers put a lot of thought into developing Zeke’s character.
It’s why you’re able to resolve this situation peacefully.
As a player, finding alternatives to killing people is often more rewarding.
So, the mission ends, and you head back to your office.
Before flying off, you have a conversation with your pilot.
Her name is Faridah Malik.
You can discern from her name that she’s Arab-American.
However, nobody looks down on her for being Arab.
In this world, racial prejudice is rarely an issue.
People of different races work and live together, without incident.
Instead, biotech prejudice has become the new racism.
Remember in this world, people can upgrade their bodies with biotech.
These upgrades are known as augmentations.
Pro-human protesters oppose the availability of safe, legal augmentation.
Some protesters even attack augmentation clinics.
Or they take hostages at your workplace, as you saw earlier.
In many ways, augmentation is a metaphor.
Plenty of real-life movements parallel the game’s pro-human movement.
“Human Revolution” doesn’t hide these parallels.
After all, it’s the game’s way of critiquing society, using science fiction.
We’ll analyse this in future episodes.
For now, we’ll end with some footage from our next coming episode.
Thanks for watching.
We hope to see you again soon.
We have little to add to this analysis, except to say the second episode of our video projects is usually better than the first, for good reason. The first episode is where we encounter technical roadblocks and bottlenecks. The second is a chance to eliminate those bottlenecks, so we can focus more on quality of the content instead.
We plan to analyse 4 games this year, 5 episodes per game, for a total of 20. All four games engage with player choice, an essential aspect to feminist gaming. The ones we intend to analyse are…
1: Human Revolution
2: Mass Effect 3
3: Bioshock Infinite
4: Metro: Last Light
In our next episode, we’ll focus on how Human Revolution presents its characters as humanised beings, instead of dehumanised target practice. Of course, if you’d like us to address other topics in future episodes, let us know in the comments!
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