Not ones to shy away from controversial topics, Matt Parker and Trey Stone’s newest gaming collaboration with Ubisoft, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, has taken things to a whole new level. In what has to be a first for gameplay mechanics, the difficulty setting for the game is linked to what colour your skin is for your playable character. Being a rather contentious subject in society today, particularly in America, it’s a brilliant commentary on how people of colour are faced with difficult and more challenging lives solely based on their ethnicity. During a gameplay trailer shown below courtesy of Eurogamer, you can see around the 5 minute and 40 seconds mark where shit gets real.
As uncomfortable as this scene can be for some to see, it certainly makes it obvious that the lighter your skin tone is in the game, the easier a time you’ll have at actually playing it. Even during the actual selection process you’ll hear Cartman, ever the insensitive soul that he is, say “Don’t worry, this doesn’t affect combat. Just every other aspect of your whole life.” It’s amazing to see the previewers struggle with the idea of choosing an avatar that is both to their liking and also provides them with enough challenge in-game, all while opening dialogue about the sensitivity of the topic in general.
However this is not the only piece of big news The Fractured But Whole has recently revealed. In a secondary gameplay video where you are introduced to the school councillor Mr Mackey (Mmmkay), players will have the option to assign their gender from male, female, or other. Because the game is a direct sequel to The Stick of Truth, where you could only be male, if players choose to be female a dialogue sequence retconning the past game is started. From here Mr Mackey then discusses the distinction between cisgender and transgender, once again allowing players to choose which they identify as. The sequence starts from around the 44 minute mark for those wanting to see the cut scene.
In true South Park style, as with the POC difficulty setting, this topic is handled both with the right amount of humor and benevolence that it makes the sequence light-hearted but also informative. Having the option to be a transgender main character in a ‘Triple A’ game release is a big move in the right direction for gaming inclusivity. It provides a wonderful platform for discussion, as the subject matter of gender in today’s political climate is becoming more relevant and openly discussed.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is due for release on the 17th October 2017, and will be available to play on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Let us know what you think of this interesting gaming mechanic and sound off what difficulty you’ll be choosing and why in the comment section below.