The cumulative morality of Far Cry 3

Josh Pease

Kyle Wilke
February 4, 2013

Great Review and very interesting. Reminds me a lot of Infamous on PS3, do good become good, do bad become bad.

Check out Journey on PS3, original music, no speaking, graphically beautiful, and so emotionally engaging people set up apology forums for leaving people alone in the game. Also won a few awards.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
February 4, 2013

Thanks for the comment, Kyle. We actually reviewed Journey in May of last year: http://thinkchristian.net/journey-and-the-value-of-companionship/

Josh Larsen,
TC editor

Drew Dixon
February 4, 2013

It's great to see more games writing on TC! I enjoyed this article here.

Lead Writer Jeffrey Yohalem has been all over the internet proclaiming that the game is supposedly satire of the gaming industry and all those moments where Jason Brody commments on how "awesome" all the violence he is committing is are meta commentary on gamers who get caught up in such power fantasies.

I am not sure I buy it. I think the game tried to do that, but stumbled over itself at too many key moments that I think its ultimately a failure in that regard. In trying to critique our obsession with hyper violence in games they ended up kinda just making another hyper violent game.

If you'd like me to share specifics, I can, just didn't want to spoil any of the game.

Anyway, good article--I enjoyed reading it!

Joshua Pease
February 4, 2013

Drew, great thoughts.

I think you're close to 100% right (let's say 96%). While I'd stick by what I wrote - that this game has a more nuanced take on morality than most - there's no doubt that it wants to have it's blood-drenched cake and eat it too (weird metaphor). Most of the fun comes from finding creative ways to clear out the "fortresses" that dominate the map - all told my Jason Brody killed literally thousands of people.

My initial draft of this article closed with a line that said something like "ultimately Far Cry is a game that makes you question your choices ... including the one to buy the game in the first place." However I hadn't really unpacked that theme enough for it to fit.

I'd be interested in hearing more of your thoughts - let's just give an official SPOILER ALERT for anyone bothering to read this.

Joshua Pease
February 4, 2013

Thanks Kyle! Make sure you check out the article Josh (the other Josh) linked to below. I just read it and it's fantastic.

Drew Dixon
February 5, 2013

Yeah I definitely see how the game tries to get you to think about your choices--I definitely get that, I just feel that loses steam as you go along.

For instance--there really aren't many consequences for Jason becoming obsessed with violence. Even in the end--its like Jason can just decide that isn't going to define him in a snap decision. In fact the people around Jason just seem to sorta accept him back in their fold despite how violently he descended.

Spoiler Alert:

The biggest let down for me was the torture scene. Riley basically tells Jason that it is ok for him to torture him--its like everything and everyone around Jason is supporting his descent into that of a violent madman.

Also, a lot of people have critiqued the game's colonization system. It is possible for the player/Jason to basically make the island/islands safe by taking every outpost. Which again kinda stamps approval on the whole idea of colonization and Jason's descent into violence.

That said, there are some things I really appreciate about the game. The emergent narrative that arises out of taking outposts is pretty great and a number of the missions where Jason is becoming more and more nuts about violence are also great--particularly the ones where his friends are terrified while he squeals in joy as if he is some adolescent learning to enjoy violent videogames for the first time.

Those were interesting touches that I think in the end, the overall written narrative didn't adequately support.

Curious if you played Spec Ops: The Line? I think that is a game that set out to do some similar things and was actually a little more successful in achieving its goals (that is my opinion of course).

Joshua Pease
February 5, 2013

I never really thought about the colonization angle, but that makes sense. A counter-argument could be that Jason "civilizes" the island by helping an equally disturbed group of people be in charge ... but that argument requires way more analyzation than 99% of the gamers did I'd imagine.

I think where I agree with you most is on the wasted potential. The game clearly shows Brody going nuts, but never really follows through. I was hoping that the whole "Buck" character was completely made up Fight Club style. They had the potential to really go down the rabbit hole (to use the game's allusion) and shied away at the end.

And I wish they'd made the final "moral choice" more nuanced - a choice between a mission to kill the main villain or rescue your friends from Citra. That would have brought the moral slippery slope Jason was on to a much more satisfying conclusion.

To answer your question, I haven't played Spec Ops yet - I watched my friend play a demo last night and had mixed feelings. It seemed like such an "Apocalypse Now" plot that I wasn't intrigued to see how it wrapped up. Is it worth playing through?

Drew Dixon
February 5, 2013

Yeah Spec Ops: the Line does have an Apocalypse Now plot--in fact that was the goal from the get-go the creative director very much modeled it after that movie. So all that is very purposeful. There is a lot of debate about whether or not the game actually pulls it off.

Whether it does or doesn't there isn't a single war game out there quite like it. Brendan Keogh wrote an entire book about the game called Killing is Harmless. Anyway, here is my take on the game if you are interested:


Also, here is maybe the best thing I have read on Far Cry 3:


Joshua Pease
February 6, 2013

Loved both of those links/how in to video game critiquing you are. It's a fair question whether any video game in the ballpark of "shooter" could have a strong moral compass, as it's ultimately encouraging people to buy their product to engage in mass killing (regardless of the overriding message).

That being said, Far Cry 3 was masterfully put together and a lot of fun to play ... whether or not that's a good thing is up for debate.

Paul Stephen Cox
March 11, 2014

I had real high hopes for this game after enjoying Far Cry 2 but was deeply disturbed by the ability to TORTURE a member of the opposite team when you win on the multiplayer match. A although some of these quick scenes seem funny or harmless Many in real life would be considered war crimes(like hitting your opponent with a rifle like swinging a golf club). Remember your playing another team of actual people in this game mode and you choose which one you do if your team wins and your the leading player but if your not another person still does a move post match in a three on one unarmed and usually hogtied opponent represented by the worst player on the other team. You can turn this of although there are a few options where you can treat him nicely your can also urinate in his drink and watch as he drinks it(no joke).

Anna Sjardin-Killick
July 8, 2014

I thought your article was very interesting. I find the playing graphic games and writing about the morality of them ironic in an amusing way. Are we trying to justify violent computer games as Christians or as are we actually trying to find a way of not demonising everything we find fun - and find morality within the immorality? This is the quandary I find myself in ;)

The most disturbing aspect of the game for me was the insinuated abuse of Riley(?) by Buck. Buck makes several lascivious and lewd gestures and comments and Riley is clearly traumatised. I found myself feeling sick and stopped playing. I found myself wishing that I could just skip these storyline scenes and get on with the game (of shooting people and animals ironically - and exploring the island). I would genuinely like to know how other people 'cope' or process this kind of thing. I would like to be able to say 'I totally disagree with killing people and I don't condone many of the behaviours in FC3 but I had a brilliant time playing it.'

I am still considering whether or not to simply take my headphones off during the storyline parts and complete the missions and tasks or to make myself feel like I've taken the high ground and walk away.

I am so aware that this sounds completely hypocritical but I would love your opinion, Josh - and others!

I am very aware that I am not in the target audience (34, female Christian, married and a gamer - my friend didn't even know what she was looking at when I showed her the cover and laughed, shocked! :) )

Drew Dixon
August 21, 2014

Hey Anna,

I don't think Josh or myself for that matter, were trying to find the morality within the immorality or at least that is not how I think about game's criticism. A couple of points.

1. These games are fictional, no one is actually committing these violent acts. I don't mean to imply that that means "doing" these violent acts in a game world is totally fine. I think we ought to think about the purpose of those acts/why the game might be asking us to do them. Is the game trivializing such acts, exposing the horribleness of such acts, or asking us to consider our capability of committing such acts? Or is it somewhere in between.

I think FC3's torture scenes probably lean toward trivializing torture (I haven't played multiplayer but it sounds pretty virile), but I have read smart, thoughtful, even godly Christian opinions where they argued that that is not the purpose of these scenes. The most convincing arguments I have seen about FC3 is that the point of the game (particularly the ending) is to expose our obsession with power fantasies by asking us whether we'd like to disappear into a hedonistic game world. I don't really buy that argument but I think its an interesting one.

All that said, I think in general Christians need to learn to consume media more thoughtfully. For some that might mean choosing not to consume particular things but for most I think it means thinking theologically and biblically about what we consume--what it says about us, about the world, and our place in it. In that vein, I think what Josh did in this article is a wonderfully helpful thing.

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