BY JEFF ANDREWS
An entity calling itself “Gamers United” posted a petition to Change.org about Ubisoft’s forthcoming game Far Cry 5 on Tuesday, and boy is it a doozy. At least it was: After circulating on social media and getting coverage on several sites, the petition was taken down on Tuesday afternoon as it approached 1,000 signatures.
Far Cry is a popular open-world first-person shooter franchise that launched in 2004. The newest installment, Far Cry 5, is scheduled for release in 2018 and is set in a fictional county in rural Montana where a doomsday cult has caused violence. The player is a sheriff’s deputy who is charged with arresting the cult’s leader.
Among the petition’s many demands, Gamers United wants game publisher Ubisoft to change Far Cry 5’s villains from American Christians to Muslims and “inner city gangs,” or failing that, at least sprinkle more black people into the cult so as “to not target white people exclusively.” The petition is wholly ridiculous and exactly what you’d expect from the GamerGate “movement,” which spent the better part of 2014 cyber-bullying women who play video games.
There’s also the possibility that the petition is fake or that it was created to promote the game, an idea posited on Reddit. For one, the petition is quite on-the-nose and contains not-so-subtle digs at the gaming community, including a call-to-arms that includes the “continued rejection of romantic partners when they find out our hobby.” The GamerGate subreddit /r/KotakuInAction condemned the petition in a lengthy thread.
“Whoever wrote this is insane,” wrote one user. “I can guarantee you this is third party trolling,” another wrote. Another added: “This is third party trolling, i.e. a marketing stunt [sic.]”
There is precedent for brands creating fake controversies to drum up free publicity, and if this was a stunt, it worked to perfection as publications ranging from Forbes to Mashable have written about the petition. It also went viral on Twitter, with both people supporting the petition and making fun it. As of publication of this article, Ubisoft hasn’t respond to Vocativ’s request for comment.
The petition was mysteriously pulled from Change.org at around 3:30 pm ET on Tuesday, so we may never know the truth. Either way, it’s telling that people can’t distinguish GamerGate rants from a satire about them.