Last week was a bit odd. I had an intersection of TV, computer games, and Africa.
I got a chance to see the first two episodes of season three of Strike Back and I picked up the game Far Cry 2 on sale. Both of these were set in Africa. They just weren’t really set in Africa. It was kind of annoying. I’m not a complete expert on Africa, but I know enough to be perturbed at lazy writing.
Strike Back is not a bad show, it’s just that the show runners aren’t willing to do a bit of research and seem to be contractually obligated to include gratuitous nudity at least once every episode. The breasts don’t annoy me, per se, but it really cheapens the show. These are gratuitous of the level of Alice Eve’s bra and panties shot in Star Trek Intro Darkness. It’s just silly.
And using some urban decay areas of South Africa as a stand-in for Mogadishu is really, really lazy. I understand that there are budgetary constraints. So work within them. There are a lot of places those parts of South Africa could easily double for, including parts of Kenya and Tanzania. Mogadishu is a whole other level of decay, closer to Armageddon than abandoned industrial.
I laughed out loud when they patched into the CCTV on the Mogadishu docks. Seriously, why not say something like “our UAV is on line” or “the American drone is in place.” Honestly, that’s believable. A CCTV system in Mogadishu that is both working and networked to allow for the UK’s secret squirrels to hack it is really pushing on the willing suspension of disbelief.
Far Cry 2 kind of ended up being the same. So, it’s a computer game. I get it. It’s in a fictitious African country. I get that too. What I don’t get is why there are so many white mercenaries running around. There’s a supply and demand issue going on right now with mercenaries in Africa. While demand is huge, there is an equally huge domestic supply. This is not to say there are no white mercenaries in Africa, there surely are, but they are not manning checkpoints or chasing random vehicles in technicals. They’re flying the jets, training the armies, and assassinating the troublesome human rights advocates.
It also seemed a little crazy that the dudes at the checkpoints were only interested in shooting the stuffing out of anything that moved. I’ve got diamonds, guys. I’m willing to bribe you. There should be a mechanic in which you can carry whiskey, beer, cigarettes, stuff like that, and then use those to bribe the guys at checkpoints. The more you bribe them, the better your reputation with them, and you actually build a relationship.
Okay, probably too complicated for a game that is predicated on shooting anything that moves, but like the show runners for Strike Back, it shows a real ignorance of Africa. Yes, there are civil wars going on and there are mercenaries in those civil wars and diamonds are paying for a lot of it, but as a mercenary in that zone, your greatest weapon is a smile and cold beer.
You can learn more about Strike Back here.
You can learn more about Far Cry 2 here.