“Display of Force” — The Silicon Sasquatch Podcast: Episode 49
On August 14th, Polygon posted an article about DICE's cops-and-robbers extension of the Battlefield franchise, Battlefield Hardline. Any other news day the article, "Is Battlefield Hardline the next eSports darling?," would have read like typical pre-release chaff, with a publisher keen on highlighting new features of an upcoming release to whet gamers' appetites, as is the way of games journalism. But as the article hit the Web, Ferguson, Missouri was embroiled in a conflict with its militarized local police force. Ferguson police (which that same day handed-over security duties to the Missouri State Highway Patrol) were ordered to quell widespread protests in the wake of the August 9th officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed, 18-year-old black student.
If you haven't followed the events in Ferguson, The Washington Post has a thorough timeline cataloging major events within the city. You can access the coverage here.
While our staff agreed that Polygon acted obliviously in light simultaneous real-world events, we also recognized that blaming the site is beside the point. An article about a game in which police employ excessive force was an opportunity to discuss gaming's awkward history in portraying police, and whether or not it's possible for developers to reconcile the conflict in making a game about the police wherein violence is the most obvious solution.
Intro/outro music: “Hip Hominid” by Nick Cummings