Deus Ex brand director defends ‘Augs Lives Matters’

Square Enix’s upcoming Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has stoked the fire once again by drawing on another controversial topic in its marketing.

A little over a year ago the game was dragged into controversy over its use of the term ‘Mechanical Apartheid’ in its positioning of a future where mankind is split, with ‘augmented’ people becoming marginalised by the general populace owing to the events of predecessor Human Revolution.

Now new marketing for the game has featured a banner with the slogan ‘Augs Lives Matters’. This on the face of it seems to draw on the Black Lives Matter movement which campaigns against systematic racism in the US and police brutality toward people of colour.

In a Twitter exchange between BioWare designer Manveer Heir and Deus Ex’s executive brand director Andre Vu, the latter has claimed that any likeness between the game’s political themes and Black Lives Matter is coincidental and that the slogan was created for the game at an earlier stage of its five year development cycle, before it was popularised by the US campaign, which itself was created in 2013.

You are assuming too much stuff without even knowing the whole context and shouldn’t jump on a hate wagon that fast,” Vu added.

Speaking to Polygon, Heir countered that even if Vu’s timeline is correct, there should have been enough awareness from the devs and marketing team to realise that the use of the slogan was politically insensitive.

Of the decision to run with the ‘Mechanical Apartheid’ line, the game’s narrative director Mary DeMerla said the following last summer: When we make a decision like embracing that term, we do it with a lot of thought and a lot of specific concern about how we’re doing it.

What we are also trying to do with Deus Ex is look at the world, and trying not to judge the world but to present it in a very – we like to talk about shades of grey. So we like to present the issues to the best of our abilities without judging you or your actions, so that you can make up your own mind about it.

You have to present them in as neutral of a way as possible to enable players to feel that and interpret it in their own way. Obviously, there will be people who are super sensitive to those sorts of things, and we recognise that, and we feel bad when we offend someone but we are trying to be as truthful and as honest as we possibly can.

"We’re not trying to be preachy here, just holding up the mirror. And that’s one of the things about science fiction: it embraces concepts that are hard for society to see."

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is out on August 23rd.

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