Jeff Franklin didn’t see it coming. He died quickly and violently: a shotgun blast at the hands of Christian extremists. But luckily he still had 10 minutes left on his video game demo. On his second time around, he got his revenge using a baseball bat the colour of the American flag.
“Pretty awesome,” he says before putting his headphones back on and looking for more white separatists to pummel.
Franklin is among more than 68,000 who attended the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, North America’s biggest video game showcase.
One of the biggest surprises so far, he says, is the game he’s playing now: Far Cry 5, developed by Ubisoft Montreal. He was taken aback by the political tone of the game, which is set in the fictional Hope County, Mont., and pits the gamer against a Christian extremist and separatist preacher.
And, he says, it’s about time games took on more political themes.
“I think it’s actually something that’s needed,” he says. “If you have games that are touching on real-life topics, it just brings it back to being relatable and it opens minds and starts conversations.”
Those conversations have been sorely lacking until now, says Game Informer associate editor and Montreal native Elise Favis.
But as she explored this year’s E3 showroom, she noticed a growing number of titles are brushing against the video game industry’s traditional third rail: politics.
“We’re definitely seeing more of an interest from developers,” she says. “Politics have been ingrained in art for a long time, and video games are no different from that. So I’m really…