Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the newest title from Eidos Montreal and Square Enix was accused yesterday of being racist, or at the very least racially insensitive, for using the term "mechanical apartheid" to describe the state in which the game's futuristic world is.
The world of 2029 isn't a very pleasant place for humans with cybernetic and mechanical augmentations–cyborgs–following the events of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which saw millions lose their lives after cyborgs were forcibly taken over by a virus that turned them into homicidal machines with no control of their actions.
As a result of these events, mechanically augmented humans have been cast out from society, living in complete and total segregation from the rest of society.
The term used to describe this state of affairs is "mechanical apartheid", which has driven some quarters to complain about it on Twitter and elsewhere on the Internet. The game itself was described by some, who lacked knowledge of the game's developers, as a "white game". The term has been described as "inappropriate" due to the legacy of apartheid in South Africa, never mind the fact that apartheid can be applied to a number of different forms of segregation, including social, gender and religious apartheid.
Interestingly enough, the term was coined by two developers, Game Director Gilles Matouba (who's black and French) and Brand Director of DX Andre Vu (who's Asian and French) at Eidos Montreal.
Posting on Reddit, Gilles Matouba took issue with the fact that those describing Deus Ex: Mankind Divided as a "white game", among a variety of complaints, erased his identity as a black developer.
Here's what an excerpt of what he wrote:
I am Gilles Matouba and there is a thin chance of you knowing me. Still, I am a veteran french game developer with 15 years of experience in the industry. Mostly at Ubisoft and Eidos Montreal.
Until september 2014 I was the Game Director of DXMD at Eidos Montreal.
3 years ago Andre Vu, the Brand Director of the DX franchise, and I coined the term 'Mechanical Apartheid'.
Thing is… I am Black (& French…). And Andre is Asian (& French).
When we decided to go all-in on delivering the experience to play as Adam Jensen, an Augmented, in a world agressively segragating his own kind, we actually wanted to offer to our audience something unique. Something that was close and very personal to us: The experience of being torn between 2 worlds and 2 identities. Augs calling you the 'uncle Tom' of the non-augs, non-augs always insecure when you're around, always deeply being scared or appaled by your mechanical body.
Somehow, it was our own individual stories… We wanted to share a little part of our own life experience (on a super dramatized degree, of course) as visible minorities in a world of prejudices sometimes not well tailored for us.
We also used the reference of south africa, israel, even brasil, french and american ghettos and any country ressorting to walls in order to segratgate a part of their own population. We meant it. This was important to us to not half-ass these analogies. BECAUSE THIS IS DEUS EX.
Deus Ex is a very mature and thoughtful franchise that wants to hook gamers on essential questions and considerations: power, control, species, science, sociology, singularity, etc.
Racism is a ey dark part of our human nature and we wanted to treat this subject. It was especially important for ME to treat this.
So it makes me sad and angry that these ignorant people just ASSUME that everyone behind this game is ill-spirited, stupid, and more importantly for me, that they that they are all WHITE. (For them devs==white, gamers==white)
What these bloggers and tweeters did to me here is beyond mere insults: They have degraded me and have literally erased my identity as a black developer and as a black creator that just wanted to share a piece of himself with this game.
I wish that they will feel bad about it. I wish they will have the decency to apologize of their gross false assumptions and accusations. To apologize to all the people back in Quebec that have been working hard FOR YEARS to make this game to happen. But since they have no spine, no shame and no self respect they will simply ignore this post (once again denying me voice, legitimacy and identity) and will at best move on another AAA target to toss their freshly defecated shit at.
They don't deserve anyone's attention. They don't deserve our industry, our games and the dedication we put into them. They disgust me.
TL : DR Asian guy and black guy came up with the term Mechanical Apartheid 3 years ago. Black guy not happy about the SJW shit tweets and wants to call them out and expose their stupidity. Black guy is not their shield.