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Call of Juarez: The Cartel – How Lazy Design Hurts Everyone – Extra Credits

Call of Juarez: The Cartel – How Lazy Design Hurts Everyone – Extra Credits


All right So last week as you may recall we talked about propaganda games and the danger that they can pose Wrapping up with a short section at the end about the more worrisome threat posed by a haphazard and lazy game design this week I’d like to provide an illustration tah-dah Please don’t play this game not because it’s reprehensible not because it’s racist it is both of those things But that’s your place to judge for yourself. [I] say don’t play this game because it is just plain boring It’s a nun fun slog of an FPS That is so banal and brainless even the most ardent shooter fans are going to have a hard time seeing it through to the end Maybe if you’re an aspiring designer, and you want a great example of a poorly put together game for a learning experience [maybe] and even then Before we get into this we do want to thank Mr.. [Rob] Breath He was [a] big help in putting this episode together so many thanks to him and now to the heart of it What is happening in Mexico right now is a tragedy. It’s a nation locked in a war that’s rarely talked about north of the border [a] war that is often dismissed as criminal activity because of the nature [of] its participants and Thus not afforded the attention it deserves, [but] make no mistake the drug war is a very real war 40,000 people have died in the last five years in this war that’s ten times the number of us soldiers Who’ve died in Iraq or about a third as many Iraqi Civilians This is a war being fought not solely by the Mexican police but by every branch of its armed services and even though the use Of the army and the marines in the last Few years have done major damage [to] the drug cartels the level of violence has only grown with each passing month Today most major security assessments see the destabilization caused by the drug war as a major threat to the Mexican government But while those [numbers] may capture the scope of this war it doesn’t convey the horror that goes with it you see It’s not a conventional war no one’s playing by the rules in this thing Rape torture and kidnapping are all regular tools in this conflict the battlegrounds are apartment blocks and neighborhoods children and families are both its victims and its weapons and the worst part is it’s a conflict without end because neither side has a Clear end goal It’s not like a war between two nations where one side can just surrender and then the other side will take over the drug lords Have no interest in controlling the country and the Mexican [government] has no system in place for the Narcos to Surrender It’s just a complete mess Now when I heard that a game about this subject was coming out. I’ll admit I was Foolishly hopeful [I] thought you know this conflict gets so little publicity and most of the major video game buying nations have very little involvement In it have a chance to really get a game that tackles tough Complicated current events [even] [handedly] and lets the player explore many of the larger questions that surround events like these Questions that matter to all of us no matter how far from these particular events. We live this word again. Can really make a difference naive perhaps but one can always hope But instead we got a game that neither respects the lives that have been lost in this conflict nor the player themselves Where do I even start to begin with this might be the most racist game? I’ve ever played by a major publisher [I] know we often see games guilty of turning minorities into horrible stereotypes, but call of Juarez goes above and Beyond This is where that thing we warned about last week comes up lazy design leading to terrible misinformation [I] don’t know if the designers just weren’t thinking about what any other play meant or if they thought that maybe having playable minority characters In the game exempted them from any accusations of racism probably the former, but then from the very outset They do go out of their way to mention that the female [african-American] FBI agent was only recruited through a minority Outreach Program and you know what I would totally let that slide if it weren’t for the rest of the game The entire game is about the evils of minorities about their criminal behavior, and how we should put them down I know that sounds extreme hyperbolic even but bear with me for like 30 seconds in call of Juarez the cartel you spend the entire game shooting waves of African-Americans and latinos you shoot wave after wave after wave of them pretty much to the point where it’s dehumanizing. So here We have the clear start of that accidental indoctrination through lazy design thing we talked about before but [ok] call of Juarez Isn’t the only game guilty of this we said as much ourselves last week, but wait. I’m not done There is an achievement for killing black people Early in the game, there’s a level called gangbang. No. I’m not kidding Where you go to one of the poor districts of La to incite gang violence not kidding again on gangbang? You’re awarded a trophy for killing at least 40 people and it is at this point that I should probably mention that this is the only level where every enemy is black and Yes This is the only time you’re given an achievement for killing enemies in a specific level of the game The achievements called bad guy, you can look it up This is a perfect example of why as a designer you have to think about what your mechanics mean but the lazy design extends even further Into the research all throughout the game there are small details that are just simply wrong The characters in the game use the Phrase gold or lead? But so far as I can tell that’s not a phrase anyone actually says the phrase is plata O plomo silver or lead was coined by Pablo escobar back in the 80s you pretty much can’t google the drug war or spend 15 [minutes] on Wikipedia researching the Topic without running into that phrase there’s no reason for not getting that right as a designer when you’re dealing with real-World events especially [real-World] events that involve the deaths of thousands of people and are still happening as we speak [there’s] no excuse for that lack of effort Think of how much time and effort gearbox software invested in making the brothers-in-Arms series as historically accurate as they possibly could It showed respect for the subject matter and helps to educate anyone who played the game the guys at creative assembly and Paradox do exhaustive research on their games Fighting to make sure every minut detail is as accurate as possible and their subject matter took place hundreds of years ago by comparison [techland] completely degrades their subject matter by demonstrating how little it [really] matters to them and commits the worst crime a designer can Wilfully misinforming your audience, but the small details aren’t really what get me know It’s the large ones the tragic ones that really bother me about a third of the way [through] the game There’s a level in a strip club called Candy store You’re ostensibly going there to look [for] a missing stripper due to am there enough leaf that [I] won’t even try to explain While going through the level you casually strangle two of the strippers to get information out of them and normally I’d spend the next paragraph Railing against this casual violence toward disempowered women but you know what we’re short on time And it’s honestly not even the worst part of the level the worst part is the lie it frames about sex trafficking To me the kidnapping and sale of human beings into slavery to be exploited as sexual object is one of the world’s most heinous crimes Tragically it’s become a very profitable activity for Mexican drug cartels and [call] of Juarez does bring the topic up but even here they couldn’t be bothered to research the subject in call of Juarez the cartel they frame the question of sex trafficking as Mexican drug [dealers] are crossing the border [to] steal our women that is the most despicable perversion of truth I’ve seen in the game that isn’t how it happens Mexican cartels. Don’t come to the u.s. To kidnap women that doesn’t even make sense Kidnapping American women to sell in Mexico would be insanely risky on their part and far less profitable than doing it the other way around the overwhelming majority of sex trafficking between Mexico and the United States Involves Mexican women being kidnapped and then sold in the us And yet in call of Juarez they chose to Falsify this Maybe this was done out of sloth or maybe out of some idea that the game would sell better in the states if they played Off our basest fears and fully avoided implying that some portion of the [us] might in some way be complicit in this activity But you know what we’re big [enough] to take it, and if not well that’s our problem But as a game designer your audience trust you, it’s your responsibility not to betray that trust. [I’m] willing to wager There’s now at least one person out there who now believes more firmly that Mexicans are stealing our women because of this game that is (BEEP)ing disgraceful [it] is ashamed what it means to be a designer, and it belies the responsibility we as a group hold when producing Mass media we can do a lot better than this we can inform and educate and entertain, but failing all of that We can at least be honest Juarez Mexico has the highest number of female homicides per Capita in the world [I] Would really really like it if this is the heaviest episode. We ever have to make thanks for second with me. We’ll say next week

100 thoughts on “Call of Juarez: The Cartel – How Lazy Design Hurts Everyone – Extra Credits”

  1. This is a prime example of how swearing can be super effective, even when it's censored. By purposefully keeping the language clean everywhere else, it draws your attention to the few times he actually does go there. It's like that really quiet kid at school telling the bully to "F*** off!" without warning, it naturally makes you sit up and pay attention. And that particular F-bomb was 100% justified. Good on you Dan!

  2. I actually like these heavy episodes. Important topics tend to be avoided because people don't like them, but, if handled well, are actually better experiences than the more mainstream topics.

  3. Have you ever played the original Call of Juarez? It's nothing like this game at all, it's actually a really fun game that takes place in the Old West, and isn't raciest. What happened?

  4. Oh yeah waves after waves of ENEMYS ….. its totoally RACIST that the member of MEXICAN DRUG CARTELS are MEXICAN surprise ….

  5. The dictionary translation for plata yes is silver, but Pablo and most Colombians use it as a slang for money so in that context plata means money not silver.

  6. Calling Paradox out for being very historically accurate while having the Sweden really buffed up in EU4. Right…

  7. Comments: Dan cursed
    Me: I'm starting to get interested in making an accurate video game adaptation of this war now.

  8. You guys got so much more respect from me for doing this episode thanks for talking about the touchy subjects and not being afraid to call people out on their crap I as gamer and as student thank you

  9. 3:11 Says right there on the screen how the agent in question is "the youngest officer to receive Medal of Meritorious Achievements"

    Doesn't quite fit the picture of developers taking a jab at officers of color, female officers, or at the outreach programs themselves.

  10. That is F****
    HE SWORE!
    THE END IS NIGH! I always thought the day he swore would be the end of humanity.
    Get ready for judgement day.

  11. Beautiful. 8 years old. Man, I can't imagine what you're thinking about this game in today's society with Trump as President. It really makes me wonder how implicit this game was in the mindset that put Trump in office.

  12. A little scary how on the nose this episode was when taking into account the current American political skullduggery.

    I miss the episodes like this. I miss Dan.

  13. I remember when this came out, all my gamer friends wre ranting for hours about the pure, inconcievable, undiluted *wrong * of this game. However, each time I asked them about details they would just..give me that odd look and clamp down. It was only several weeks after its release one of them took pity on me and summed it up as, "You basically go around shooting prostitutes." Yeah, I know, about as accurate as the game.
    And wow, when Dan dropped the F-bomb, I actually skipped back to make sure I heard correctly.

  14. To be fair, there are tons of games built around killing wave after wave of Europeans and European descendants. You could argue that those games are all marketed towards white people and white people don't need to worry about de-humanizing themselves. But most major games reach an international audience nowadays. So that argument is not as true as it used to be.

  15. Cartels DO kidnap American women (and children) and traffic them all over the world. The MAJORITY of the trade may go the other way but you SPECIFICALLY said that cartels DON'T come to the US to kidnap women. There are NUMEROUS documented cases of that happening. If you're going to get hung up on "gold" vs "silver" and the need for proper research & use of terms, maybe you could try following your own advice, whaddaya think?

  16. You know the part where they discuss "framing the lie about sex trafficking" seems rather ironic when you say you can not see an end to the drug war. Are you blind? Why is stopping the drug war and doctors not come to your mind? It's a failed gov policy NOT A FORCE OF NATURE.

  17. 7:06 its scary when he swears he so kids the lesson is if you never swear when you do its more effective same with anger but man hearing him yell the beep is scary

  18. America: buys loads of drugs and sex slaves

    Also America: "Mexico why so much war with sex traffickers are you stealing our womenz?"

  19. This is so disgusting. I think Yahtzee Croshaw sums it up perfectly. “There is no middle finger big enough!” Honestly, do your homework Call of Juarez devs. Not cool.

  20. Also, I learned (via adverts):
    "When you trim the hedges, the tree stands taller! Pfffffffffffffffffft!!!
    😄😸 HAHA!

  21. This game was so bad it almost ruined the Call of Juarez games for me. As a matter of fact the Call of Juarez have nothing to do with the drug wars. It's about loyalty, honor, bravery, the dangers of greed, power and pride. It centers around cursed gold.

  22. Gold or lead is correct

    In latin america, we use Plata as ,a synonym of "money"

    Therefore its either you make money or die, you spend money or spend lead, therefore its Gold or Lead.
    Its the best way to translate the meaning.

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