In the day and age where one can assume something to be “problematic” and use a platform with reach to boot an opinion, even if it goes against the true vision of whatever it is at hand, this way of thinking not only offers a false narrative but can skew the general perception of something into a debacle. Well, it seems that Amazon Game Studios’ New World is “problematic” and a “great white fantasy” by social activists due to the game being set in a fantasy version of the 17th century.
Yes, just by depicting an alternate version of the 16th or 17th century or anything remotely close to colonization without anything controversial at play, seemingly will put you in hot water by none other than… mainstream journalists.
In case you don’t know, Amazon has an upcoming open-ended sandbox MMORPG for PC in the works, which is set in a supernatural version of Northern America in the 17th century. Of course, the name of this game is New World, where players (600 per server) can either band together or fight each other. However, the title mirrors your typical survival sim where you gather resources and kill things to build up your character/guild.
Even though the game in question is an alternate fantasy version of our world (not meant to be real) and features a character creator that sports different races and two genders, for some reason this triggered Polygon to write up “Amazon’s questionable MMO has you colonize the ‘new world’” after the devs invited them and other journalists to play the demo.
Although the write-up is said to be an “impression” based piece, somehow it turned into a race and political lecture with the writer deviating from how the gameplay pans out, what controls function like, how frames-per-seconds fair, and other essential things to this:
“I enjoy playing sandbox MMO New World. This open-world adventure game teems with personality, teamwork, crafting, and combat. But New World is also perplexing and, worse, problematic.
It’s a team-based player-vs-player survival game with elements of exploration, resource exploitation, and expansion. I become part of a guild that creates our own culture, which can range from murderous warmongering to utopian idealism.
But New World is also a sanitized re-enactment of the European colonization of the Americas and elsewhere. It’s a manifestation of the great white fantasy of virgin territory and new beginnings. The game treads unwarily into a Heart of Darkness-like country of racist imperialism.”
But, wait! There’s much more:
“There are no indigenous peoples. And according to developer Amazon Game Studios, it’s not really about invasion or America.
Except … except there are human-like creatures on this Atlantic shoreline. They are shuffling zombies, variously called “Corrupted,” or “Withered.” They don’t have identifiable cultures, but they are extremely hostile to settlers. They aren’t portrayed like, say, the Wampanoag peoples that the Pilgrims encountered, or the Algonquian-speaking civilizations of pre-invasion Virginia.
The game’s lore says they are “former settlers,” who have been corrupted by the island. But I’m struck by how closely these semi-humans cleave to the exterminative view that most 17th-century colonists held of the people they found in newly discovered lands.”
Instead of actually providing a lengthy write-up of what the game plays like on a technical note, instead the piece continues on about racial politics regarding a non-political game:
“European settlers generally believed that newly discovered lands were forfeit, because the indigenous peoples did not display Eurasian-style ownership and development. The settlers came to believe that these lives were worth less than their own, because the indigenous peoples did not engage in monotheism or (in North America) the building of cities, or the printing of books or the forging of steel weapons.
The indigenous peoples were susceptible to common Old World pathogens. When first encountered by white explorers, they were often found to be in the grip of plague. To the white men, here was evidence that these wretched men, women, and children had been abandoned by God, marked by providence for extinction. They were the walking dead. And this is a video game that seems to literalize that disturbing metaphor.”
Behold, it doesn’t end there, though. The writer even builds up the courage to ask New World’s studio head Patrick Gilmore about this, which puzzled Gilmore since this game isn’t about the aforesaid nonsense:
“During an interview with studio head Patrick Gilmore, I put a version of this notion to him. He looked genuinely shocked. “That’s not really been a focus at all,” he said. “The lore of the game is that there’s a tainted aspect to this world, that it’s a garden of Eden that has fallen from grace.”
You could argue that this is precisely how 17th-century Europeans viewed the new world.
This game is undoubtedly a violent expression of 17th-century Atlantic colonization and ought to be treated as such. It is made, and will be played, by the heirs to that colonization.”
The real thing to be concerned about is how this game looks like a Steam Early Access title that does nothing new compared to the sea of survival online sims out there and the fact that it’s a product of Amazon Game Studios.
To be fair though, you can make up your mind whether or not you will give New World a try by checking out publication site Massively Overpowered‘s gameplay footage below.
Lastly, if you want to learn more about New World, it’s best that you read up Massively Overpowered time with the game that puts Polygon’s “impressions” to shame. Meanwhile, the devs aim to release a beta of New World sometime soon, but the title has no official release date yet.