Monday, December 10

Far Cry 3 and its absurd economy have links to Dark Tourism

Note: This post contains spoilers for Far Cry 3.

A good wallet is hard to come by these days.

In my early twenties, I used a Transformers-branded wallet made of synthetic material, complete with Velcro straps, for around three years. It had everything I needed: separate zip-able sections for both notes and coins, a respectable amount of card pouches, and a transparent sleeve for my photo ID. Oh, did I mention it had the Autobot logo on it? That was probably its greatest feature.

It served me well, until one day when the zipper on the note section jammed. It was hard to let go of this humble money-carrying device, but its primary function had been compromised. After much searching, my In-Laws ended my tireless quest upon returning home from their trip to Italy, when they gifted me with a genuine leather wallet.

It did all the things I needed it to do, but it was lacking some important features: zips for the note sections, the Autobot logo, and a coin section. For just over two years now, most everytime I wash my clothes is Treasure Time.

So about that wallet
Given that most weapons can be unlocked without purchase and that crafting items can't be purchased, money in Far Cry 3 should only really be used on ammo and weapon attachments. It's absurd really: pick up a fallen enemy's gun and it'll be issued to you by any vendor without charge, fix enough radio towers and there's not even need for the dead body scavenger hunt. It's almost like you're borrowing guns from a tourist resort. Cash is ostensibly useless.

You can't even use money to buy pedestrian items, like a new wallet to carry greater amounts of money. No. A pig, a shark and some cassowarys will need to be skinned for that purpose. Even if, say the game forced an encounter with a crocodile, you couldn't use their leathery hide (a material that was, once upon a time, used in the crafting of such accessories) to fashion a larger billfold. The player is forced to hunt a range of otherwise endangered animals to make the items required to carry more gear and loot. 

Poaching rare creatures to afford poorly composed adventure wear strikes me as problematic. Seriously, if an organization such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have thought it right to take issue with Pokémon, why has Far Cry 3 -- a game that literally allows you to dispatch Sumatran Tigers with C4 explosives -- failed to register a ping on their ethical radar? There are only four hundred of these magnificent beasts alive in the wild, yet here I would've encountered (and in most cases, subsequently killed) a tally greater than that of goats and pigs. The wildlife of the Rook Islands are walking raw materials to be slaughtered, harvested and fashioned. 

Without even considering the "Path of the Hunter" quest line, Far Cry 3 can be difficult to stomach for anyone with a love of animals. Especially when you consider that their value is reduced to that of a component for a haggard-looking rucksack. 

Death was here
There were several times throughout my adventure with Jason Brody where I felt I was treading on sacred ground. There were the more obvious encounters with Citra and the Rakyat, but the Buck missions -- which have you fighting amongst and through Ancient Chinese ruins -- had me feeling a little uncomfortable. How much money would you have to pay to see a sight as rare as Lin Cong's tomb? How much more to tear it apart? This portion of the story also includes a mission set in an abandoned Japanese base, and a firefight on a boat amidst a collection of Old World treasures. There's the obvious colonial reading of this sequence -- which, as Rowan Kaiser shows, can also be applied to the entire game -- and then there's the realisation that narrative starts with our hero and his friends on tropical holiday. 

Before long, Far Cry 3 is an apparent and living exercise in dark tourism. 

Whether you're photographing dead bodies to rally the locals, mass-grave spelunking, or getting some more ink done, the game tries to steer the player and thus the protagonist towards morality by experiencing -- or at the very least, witnessing -- immorality. The ultimate test of the game's lesson is rendered in the final minutes, but I've no doubt it'll be lost in a stockpile of bear skins and poorly-crafted pouches. 

Have you been enjoying Far Cry 3? Do you have any issue with dispatching video game animals?

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