Far Cry 3′s unique Pacific Asian island setting gives Ubisoft the ability to showcase an interesting Eastern culture. The Rakyat and Pirate’s way of life, while interesting, is very different from Western culture. The Rakyat’s way of life contains tabooed elements here in the United States like tattoos, indigenous religions, and psychedelic drugs. But instead of just illustrating a different way of life to create an interesting setting Far Cry 3 embraces the differences in culture pushing players to understand and think about subjects that many people feel uncomfortable even discussing.
The first and most apparent tabooed subject in Far Cry 3 is the tattoos. All of the Rakyat and many of the Pirates are covered in tattoos. Normally tattoos are reserved specially for evil or just really badass characters. But in Far Cry 3 tattoos are a way of life, a living symbol of a character’s life experiences and accomplishments. They aren’t reserved just for the enemy, but also the player’s allies and even the player’s character himself. Using a growing tattoo as representation for a skill brings this element of fringe culture right to the forefront of the player’s mind. It’s not just part of the scenery, it’s a part of your characters body for the rest of his life. Other games have been shifting to a visual growth for the player’s character, like the astrological tree in Skyrim. But Far Cry 3′s super cool tattoo based character development has some social stigma attached to it.
Indigenous religion is also present in Far Cry 3, and comes along with the tattoos. Traditionally the Western world is not super accepting of foreign faiths, religious people not accepting other religions and the atheists not accepting any believers. There are more differences between most prominent religions and the Rakyat’s faith than there are between the world’s largest religions. You’d think that people would have problems with many of the Rakyat’s practices, but because they are in the form of entertainment people seem to turn more of a blind eye to the differences. Ubisoft uses the fictional video game medium to bridge the gap between accepted religious practices and foreign ones. By previewing a faith so different from mainstream thought hopefully Far Cry 3 is teaching a little more acceptance between different people’s beliefs.
One of the practices that normally people would squawk about is the use of drugs. Numerous times in Far Cry 3′s story the player falls into drug induced psychedelic trips. Adding this element to Far Cry 3 gives developers the chance to add and expand past the normal limits of an FPS game. It adds an unknown dimension and pushes the story along in a cool and unexpected way. But the developers could have implemented this kind of element in a variety of ways, like in dreams or hallucinations from exhaustion or starvation. Instead the developers decided to use drugs which adds another layer of edge to the Far Cry 3 world. The use of drugs is an interesting mechanic, but a subject that many people get uncomfortable talking about in the United States.
There are many elements in Far Cry 3 that many people in our society don’t talk about. But by bringing up the subjects in an interesting and entertaining way Far Cry 3 is able to raise questions and discussions that would otherwise be swept under the rug. At the same time hopefully it shows people to be more accepting of foreign cultures and practices. In a true Far Cry fashion Far Cry 3 embraces the unique setting that the game takes place in, and hopefully teaches everyone a thing or two about the tabooed subjects in our society.