Mafia 3 Hailed As An Open World Crime Thug Action Game With Controversial Undertones

Is all publicity, good publicity? Video games, especially crime-based games such as Grand Theft Auto and Mafia, tend to garner controversy. The issues surrounding Mafia III, the latest game in the Mafia franchise, however, are rather unique in nature.

In Mafia III, the gamer plays as Lincoln Clay, a mixed-race soldier who has just returned from Vietnam to the fictional, New Orleans-inspired city of New Bordeaux. Clay soon joins the “family business” in an African-American mob. One of Clay’s tasks is to steal vehicles from Thomas Burke, an Irish mob leader with not-so-subtle connections to the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Burke claims that the cars are to “keep the Belfast law guessing when things go boom”.

lincoln clay

The stolen vehicles were likely intended for use in a decade-long period of turmoil referred to as “The Troubles”. “The Troubles” was a conflict between Irish paramilitaries with ties to the IRA and British security forces. Car bombs were a popular and terrifying weapon of choice.

Unionist politicians such as MP Jeffrey Donaldson have criticized the game for making light of “The Troubles”. He recently remarked, “Whilst this game may seem to be a work of fiction for some, it could be seen as trivializing the suffering of innocent victims and the evil that is represented by all forms of terrorism.”

Jim Allister, MLA of the Traditional Unionist Voice party, remarked that the “sick glamorization of terrorism should have no place in a world where people well beyond Northern Ireland have sadly learned of its devastating impact on human life.”

Mafia III has also been criticized for its use of racial epithets and politically-charged themes. Enemies often refer to Clay as “boy” and other less pleasant slurs. Rivalries between the black mob, Haitians and the Italian capos are portrayed as part of a race war, members of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) make an appearance, and players can see signs that read “NO COLORED ALLOWED” in the game. The inclusion of racial tensions is historically accurate, nevertheless, many have questioned whether they are necessary to the overall gameplay.