The Unreal Engine 4, a tool for repression? Considering the anti-authoritarian message of Deus Ex, the first instalment of which was made with Unreal Engine, that’s quite a leap! And to be frank, Unreal Engine 4 is still a technological marvel in its own right. It is quite fair to salute the Unreal Engine’s team for having produced such as miracle. At the same time, however, there is nothing in the agreement that bans us from criticism towards Epic Games. Moreover, I think the issue itself overrides any other consideration. The issue being that Epic Games are boasting how Unreal Engine is basically being used to support oppression. You want proof? Here it is, right here!
Why is it bad taste? Because American police forces, including the NYPD and the LAPD obviously have their issues. In fact, police forces all over the world, from the U.S. to Britain, from the Netherlands to Israel, from China to Iran, seem have the same kind of issues. For instance, police brutality disproportionately seems to hit people who are not part of the dominant ethnic group, who are mentally ill or homeless. While individual police officers may be good natured persons, and despite some individual police officers may be women and/or non-white and typically come from non-privileged socio-economic backgrounds as well, fact remains that the police are still too often deployed as an instrument of oppression.
The legal systems of most “developed countries” are most definitely not neutral. This is especially true for criminal justice systems. Sure, the wording may sound neutral enough. However, quite a few criminal law statutes are designed to create cheap labour; The criminalisation of homelessness, intimidates people into accepting shitty jobs. This in order to pay their rent or their mortgages. After all, squatting is effectively illegal, or at least highly frowned upon.
A sad conclusion
So, all in all, the fact that Epic Games boasts about the use of Unreal Engine 4 by V-Armed who makes a fortune selling software to law-enforcement agencies that enforce fundamentally unjust laws is not something to be boastful about. And please don’t say “we do not deal with politics”! Lending your name in support of use of the Unreal Engine as a tool for repression, is to fire political opening shots already!
Maybe it’s time that Epic Games will do honour to its name and just stick to games. Gaming needs more punk!