When New World was announced back in 2016, the MMO community went to work dissecting everything, from its PvP system to its business model – and yes, we even ruminated on the potential risks of setting a game in a place and point in time with a potentially ugly colonial undertone.
So it’s no great surprise that when mainstream journos got their hands on the game, they’re now getting around to having that same “oh, wow, yeah, that could be bad if not handled well” moment. For example, MOP reader Thurber pointed us to a piece on Polygon arguing that even though Amazon has mixed things up – added a supernatural element, removed indigenous people – the world players are tasked with still looks like colonial America and has zombie-like monsters to defeat, resulting in what the author deems a “sanitized re-enactment of the European colonization of the Americas and elsewhere” – “a manifestation of the great white fantasy of virgin territory and new beginnings” that “treads unwarily into a Heart of Darkness-like country of racist imperialism.”
Yikes. Maybe that goes a bit too far, or maybe not far enough – but either way I wish Amazon had given all of this more thought, since the game mechanics we played were actually pretty fun and this conversation is probably going to keep coming up over and over again and overshadowing the rest, just as it did for core MMORPG players a few years back.
Are you concerned about New World’s setting?