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The Best Games That Tackle Class Divide (Like That Movie Parasite)

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011)

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It’s common to see social inequality in the cyberpunk genre, although the Guardian’s Paul Walker-Emig argues that recent cyberpunk works have lost their “political power”. In this 2011 prequel to the original Deus Ex, augmentations are still mechanical, rather than the nano-augs you see in the latter. Even at this early stage, not everyone is accepting of these augmentations, resulting in anti-augmentation movements.

However, there is also a divide within the augmented community itself. In an interview with VentureBeat, Human Revolution narrative director Mary DeMarle noted that “advancements cost money”. And of course, not everyone has the money to afford an augmented lifestyle.

In response to the question of what living in Human Revolution’s cities is like, DeMarle said: “the real answer to this question depends (as it does today) on where you live and what socioeconomic class you belong to in 2027.”

The issue of financial standing ends up intertwined with the game’s augmentations. In the same interview, DeMarle explained that in Human Revolution, the advantages provided by augmentations can lead to better jobs with better pay. At the same time, the aforementioned reason of money, as well as incompatibility with and moral opposition to augmentations, mean that some will be left out.

The augmentations of Human Revolution bring with them a new form of social divide, but the continued importance of money reflects our current situation as well.

The game was even mentioned in Learning, Education & Games, Volume 3: 100 Games to Use in the Classroom partly due to its social class element. The author, Karen Schrier, wrote that the themes of the game could be used to discuss “extremism, factionalism, secessionism, class conflict, and inequality”.

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