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PS Picks: The Conversation Around the Gun-Toting Christian Extremists of Ubisoft's 'Far Cry 5'

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.
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Critics don't often argue that first-person shooter games have something important to say. But some felt compelled to make such a case last year, when Far Cry 5 was unveiled at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2017. In its first four iterations the Far Cry series was set in fictionalized tropical islands and developing countries; its fifth installment moves the action to rural Montana, where the antagonists are now gun-toting Christian extremists instead of foreign villains. These new baddies have invited comparisons from gamers and journalists alike to white ultra-conservative movements attracting mainstream press attention today.

While it's unlikely that Ubisoft created Far Cry 5 with contemporary movements in mind—the game has been in the works for almost five years—the game has, regardless, forced a conversation about extremism, religiosity, and gun control in America. Far Cry 5's extremists live by a motto resembling those of pro-gun religious-right activists, the Guardian noted: "Freedom, Faith and Firearms." Vice argued that the game imagined a more extreme version of modern American political polarization and the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Dialogue about the game has captured a unique moment of modern civil unrest in the United States—whether its producers intended to inspire this conversation or not.

A version of this story originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Pacific Standard. Subscribe now and get eight issues/year or purchase a single copy of the magazine.