Culture

South Park’s new game is harder for black characters, just like real life

By Oliver Smith 8 September 2017
Summary

Art imitating life.

It’s harder to rent an Airbnb, hail an Uber, even express yourself on Facebook.

No, we’re not talking about South Park’s new game, that’s just daily for many black people.

But, in an example of art imitating life, the creators of South Park: The Fractured But Whole have decided to make the game harder for black characters.

Its difficulty levels range from “easy” for a lighter-skinned character to “very difficult” for the darkest skin option, according to Eurogamer.

As you decide the skin colour of your character Eric Cartman says: “Don’t worry, this doesn’t affect combat, just every other aspect of your whole life.”

Indeed according to the developers the difficulty setting: “affects the amount of money you receive and the way other characters speak to you throughout the course of the game.”

Being South Park, this decision is likely to be highly controversial once the game launches on 17 October.

Some are already angry that the creators of the game are using the often more challenging experiences of black people as an edgy punchline, while others say this forces black players who want a matching in-game avatar to play a more difficult game.

But hopefully it’s also a timely reminder of how discrimination extends beyond video games and technology, far into the real world.

That’s a reminder well-worth having.