Ever subtle and full of tact, Quantic Dream Co-CEO Guillaume de Fondaumière looked at the state of things, where protests are erupting all over the United States after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer and thought, “how can I make this about me?”
Fondaumière took to Twitter, not once, but twice to make comparisons between the protests and the studio’s game Detroit: Become Human, which is known for…one second, let me check my notes here: creating an android allegory to slavery and the civil rights movement while also using people of color, sex workers, and women as props and making direct references to real-world figures like Martin Luther King Jr.
All of this was done under the guise of “not being political, actually,” despite the overt comparisons to be made. Androids literally sit in the back of the bus, you at one point have the option to reference MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech during a protest, but this is actually just about robots being used as servants and being sold like products to people who abuse them. So Detroit is perfectly willing to draw from real-world events, but it’s not willing to make a statement with them, according to Quantic Dream.
*Deep, unrelenting sigh*.
So Fondaumière thought the optics would be fine if he made the comparisons between people fighting for the lives of black people and his studio’s 100% apolitical video game while there are people being openly beaten and attacked by police officers, journalists being fired at on live television, all because three officers who allowed the death of George Lloyd are still free.
The first tweet was especially bad, as it invoked “all lives matter,” which is commonly used rhetoric to attempt to delegitimize the Black Lives Matter movement.
This was deleted, and then rather than reconsider, Fondaumière did the tweet again, but instead used Black Lives Matter. I mean, it’s an improvement? But the Detroit plug remains.
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Fondaumière has since denied that his intention was to promote his game, but the tweet is still there. Honestly though, he’s already shown he’s willing to delete statements like this and redo them if he feels they were in bad taste, so maybe if he just thinks about it a little harder he could maybe tweet something else? Donate to a fund to help protesters?
To be clear: promoting a game is of course not my intention here. I simply use my (very limited) share of voice to express my belief. Also, books, films and (very few) games tackle this very serious matter. I'm proud to have participated in a project that did, that is all.
— Guillaume#becomehuman (@GdeFondaumiere) June 1, 2020
Time’s are tough right now, and everyone is scrambling for the right thing to say or do. Public figures are put under a certain level of scrutiny, so when they say something extremely headass like this, it becomes a case study in how not to use your platform to spread awareness if you can’t also do it without pointing to a product someone could buy if they want to learn more about your viewpoint on the matter.
While several companies in games have been using their platforms to speak out in solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement, this industry has shown more than once it’s willing to co opt it to promote video games. Deus Ex: Human Revolution famously used the term “Augs Lives Matter” in reference to its universes augmented individuals fighting for equal rights, though Square-Enix has said this was a coincidence. Even as recently as a few weeks ago, Dying Light developer Techland tweeted out “Zombie Lives Matter” in an incredibly tone deaf post.