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Days Gone is an action-horror video game in which the player, Deacon St. John, a wandering member of a biker gang, must survive in a post-apocalyptic open world. The story takes place in Oregon, two years after a global pandemic that killed almost all of humanity and transformed millions of people into “freaks,” a kind of very fast, agile and ferocious zombie.
Its launch, which was exclusive to Play Station 4, was surrounded by controversy after its release was postponed on several occasions.
Meanwhile, its trailers received strong criticism from gaming critics. However, these criticisms were not focused on its gameplay or technical features, but on things like the protagonist being a white male and that there was not enough diversity.
Jason Schreir of Kotaku, after trying the Days Gone demo stated “I’m intrigued by where the story is going. And the performances are very good. I really like the protagonist, even though he’s a typical white biker tough guy.”
IGN, the world’s largest portal with nearly 15 million subscribers, also put the spotlight on the fact that Days Gone‘s protagonist was a white tough guy.
An employee of GameSpot, the second-largest portal, gave the game a score of 5 out of 10, complaining that the male protagonist only wanted to save his girlfriend, a damsel in distress, without caring about what she thought or needed.
Many gamers protested that this low score was unfair and based solely on the article’s angry feminism. Faced with insults from a gamer in the comments to her review, the empowered 25-year-old GameSpot writer, who believes that a woman doesn’t need a man to defend her or save her from the zombie apocalypse, forwarded the message to the gamer’s mother, who turned out to be a 37-year-old man, whom his mom scolded.
Bend Studio, aware of the importance of getting along with the specialized critics, acknowledged having made changes to the character to ingratiate himself with the “social justice warriors” who invade the media.
In an interview with Polygon, the game’s director Jeff Ross said he understood these criticisms. “The way some of the lines of dialogue were read or the way they were written didn’t help,” he explained. “We refined some of Deacon’s rougher edges for the occasion, the ones that kept him from becoming a more interesting character.”
Days Gone‘s political stance
The real issue with Days Gone is not that the protagonist is a white male. That is merely the critics’ excuse to reduce sales of a game that doesn’t align with leftist stances.
Although there’s no confirmation from the studio, these tweaks to the character’s dialogues can be intuited in a very specific part of the game, the one that has to do with the government agency NERO and the libertarian pirate radio station Radio Free Oregon.
In the post-apocalyptic world of Days Gone there are several factions, one of which is NERO (National Emergency Response Organization), a government agency that is in charge of responding to the infected crisis and which one later discovers was involved in the creation of the virus.
Radio Free Oregon is a pirate radio station, run by one of the game’s characters, Copeland, a staunch libertarian, patriot, and “preparationist” who, since before the outbreak of the pandemic, had been warning of the government’s schemes and helping his listeners to prepare for the imminent hecatomb.
As we progress through Days Gone, our character listens to the messages from this station and makes various comments about it. Although the events that transpire in the game prove that Copeland was right about absolutely everything he warned about, our character always makes a sarcy or derogatory comment.
It is so contradictory that it appears that these phrases are the ones that the studio decided to include post-production to give the impression that they do not agree with the libertarian messages poured by the announcer, trying to paint him as a conspiracy theorist like Alex Jones.
Throughout the game we can hear up to 20 of these broadcasts with libertarian proclamations by Copeland, with Deacon’s subsequent criticisms.
At one point, Radio Free Oregon (Copeland) says: “We are back in the Wild West, and some men act as if law and order were a thing of the past. But the last time I checked, this was still the United States of America! And in America, the right to private property cannot be infringed.”
“Listen to Cope,” Deacon responds. “Law and order is a thing of the past, what the hell are you talking about?”.
Either the character has severe comprehension problems, or you can tell the desperation of the game’s creators to have him consistently take issue with everything Copeland says, lest they be accused of agreeing with his positions.
The irony is that despite these attempts by the creators to deconstruct the character and make him agreeable to progressive critics, the game was equally trashed and is considered a failure. One criticism does hold true: the story is meandering and the character contradictory. But this is probably due to the last-minute changes that were made.
Apart from that, Days Gone is a very entertaining open-world game with very powerful libertarian messages, which guarantees hours of fun, as well as moments of interesting reflection on the moral choices you must make to progress through the game.
A few years ago a meme started circulating that in the event of a zombie apocalypse, the left would start fighting for zombie rights. Everything that happened with Days Gone could one day become a reality.
Ignacio Manuel García Medina, Business Management teacher. Artist and lecturer specialized in Popular Culture for various platforms. Presenter of the program "Pop Libertario" for the Juan de Mariana Institute. Lives in the Canary Islands, Spain // Ignacio M. García Medina es profesor de Gestión de Empresas. Es miembro del Instituto Juan de Mariana y conferenciante especializado en Cultura Popular e ideas de la Libertad.
Social Networks: @ignaciomgm