With Watch_Dog 2’s recent reveal, Ubisoft also showed off the series’ newest protagonist, Marcus Holloway. With Marcus’ induction into the series, Ubisoft has the chance to do something that many games do not do, put the user in the shoes of an African American male in the current day United States.
Now why is this a big deal? In modern gaming, you don’t get a lot of minorities in the starring roles. Eight times out of ten you’re a late-20’s to mid-30’s, white guy with scruffy voice and generic haircut. Watch_Dogs 2 has the opportunity to showcase the life of someone whose life you may not get to experience in your everyday life.
According to Ubisoft’s statements, Marcus is an Oakland native dead set against the ctOS because of their predictive crime algorithm identifies him as a criminal. With this story line, it will be interesting to see if Ubisoft works in that because of Marcus ethnicity, the algorithm put him at a higher rate for a criminal. Obviously, that is should not happen, but it would work as a great mirror to be held up to society as racial profiling is very heavy in the United States, especially when it comes to those who are African American.
This sort of thing has been made famous by the folks behind Grand Theft Auto. Rockstar has a great way of holding up a mirror to society to show it how ridiculous it is being. Ubisoft would be geniuses for taking a play out of RS’ book and showing folks the injustices that the African American community deal with every day, especially doing so through an approachable medium like a video game.
This is a chance for Ubisoft to take a huge step in the gaming world and build a unique, powerful, interesting character who is not a white male. As a white male myself, I do identify with many of the protagonist, but it would be such a great thing for the millions of gamers who are African Americans to have a badass protagonist to identify with. I’m a huge proponent of representing everyone in video games, as long as they’re not forced into the story and this just seems like a perfect fit. If Ubisoft does this right, there will be a new video game protagonist that a whole new sector of gamers can identify with and that is something special. By making Marcus deal with the same struggles as many African Americans do in the United States, Ubisoft would create a character that is easily relatable to that audience and maybe even more importantly, show those who do not experience those what that life is really like.
Yes, there is the chance that Ubisoft takes the easy road out and makes Marcus a boring character with bland motives, but I have hope that Marcus Holloway will be a multi-dimensional character with real life motives that can be related to by the people he represents.