The upcoming Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is one of this year’s most anticipated games, but it’s run into a wall of controversy less than a month before its release. The issue stems from a piece of promotional art (above) that shows a banner reading “Aug Lives Matters,” which some say is too close for comfort to the real-life "Black Lives Matter" activist movement.
Andre Vu, Deus Ex’s executive brand director, insists the game’s use of the phrase is just an “unfortunate coincidence.”
Augs refers to the minority of humans in the Deus Ex universe with cybernetic implants who are discriminated against and oppressed by police and society. Vu insists that the company came up with the slogan five years ago – two years before the activist movement became widespread – but the similarities are pretty clear.
The most vocal criticism has come from BioWare designer Manveer Heir, who identifies as a “visible minority.”
"Someone in marketing should have noticed the image could easily be confused as criticism of Black Lives Matter and not used it to market the game, since there is no way to provide full context from just a handful of concept art," Heir said in an email to Polygon.
"I accept Mr. Vu's assertion that it was coincidental, but that doesn't negate my criticism. It is bad optics and marketing departments, of all departments, should understand optics and how to react to the current state of the actual world."
@GeneralVu The fact that you went forward with posting the image & not realizing the optics/meaning of that image to people is incompetent— Manveer Heir (@manveerheir) August 3, 2016
Coincidence or not, many people are angry at how the game seemingly compares the fictional oppression of augmented humans, who willingly chose their cybernetic implants, with the real-world murders of black people at the hands of law enforcement.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution faced similar criticism last year for its use of the term “Mechanical Apartheid.” Speaking about the phrase back in June, an Eidos Montreal representative said: “we are trying to be as truthful and honest to the world we're creating as we possibly can. We're not trying to be preachy here, just holding up the mirror."