Last week, video game giant Ubisoft released the much-anticipated followup to its wildly popular Assassin's Creed series. Called "Watch Dogs," the game puts users in the shoes of computer hacker Aiden Pearce, who is navigating futuristic Chicago with a smartphone that tells him information about any given person on the street.
The game became Ubisoft's fastest-selling game of all time its first day on the rack, but some critics and gamers are crying foul over depictions of minority groups in the game.
Kotaku reported that some play the game just to hunt minorities, citing a recording of "Watch Dogs" play called "Making the World a Better Place," in which a player guns down characters based on everything from race to religion to the kinds of books they read.
"Not everyone is playing 'Watch Dogs' like this. In fact, most people probably aren't," Kotaku's Patricia Hernandez wrote. "But just because some part of the whole thing seems to be in jest, or perhaps a ploy to seek attention, doesn't make the 'joke' any less unnerving."
Polygon's review called the game's racial and gender stereotyping frustrating and said it prevented the story to "hold up its end of the bargain."
"Female characters in 'Watch Dogs' are victims, to be kidnapped or murdered in the interest of plot or character motivation and are almost all overtly sexualized. Black characters fall into two camps — the aforementioned victims or, just as maddeningly, criminals," reviewer Arthur Gies wrote. "The city of Chicago has an incredibly complicated, difficult history with race, discrimination and segregation. This is a difficult subject to explore in any kind of entertainment. But 'Watch Dogs' ' portrayal of Chicago's racial divide seems potentially tone-deaf."
Others, like the New York Daily News, point to the game's more troubling overtures: the future of American privacy in a digital world.
"'Watch Dogs' hands the keys to all our personal information to one guy — and it doesn't feel far-fetched," Ebenezer Samuel wrote. "By casting you as the one with all the knowledge, 'Watch Dogs' places you in an interesting spot, getting you to think about the ramifications of our current digital age."