Recently, a day ago to be exact, I fell in love with Rainbow Six Siege. There’s no other way to put how I feel about this game now. Even just watching other people play it is extremely engaging for me now. I can’t even think of another FPS that’s so entirely built around the necessity of teamwork and strategy the way Siege is. I’ve also been thinking about what message this game is implicitly putting out into the world.
Siege has no single player. It does however have a lore that acts as a framing device for everything that happens in the game. An international group only known as the “White Masks”…exists and not much more than that. They’re not given any motive, political position, objectives, goals. They’re not people. They are however an excuse to form an ever growing army of super-cops. But it’s deeper than that. Siege is effectively a Hero shooter where the “Heroes” you choose from are agents the most elite police and military forces in the world, by name. SAS, FBI SWAT, GIGN, Spetsnaz, GSG 9, SEALs, JTF2, BOPE, SAT, GEO, SDU, GROM, 707th SMB.
These are all real organizations, most of them police, some of them military, and many of them intentionally blurring the lines between the two and more importantly blurring the lines between things like enemy combatant and criminal, terrorist and activist. Many of the organizations portrayed as larger than life hero archetypes in Siege have been accused of human rights violations and war crimes. And none of this is brought up at all, and no I’m not gonna give Siege a pass because it doesn’t have a single player campaign. Because it has a narrative, and in that narrative these real world giant powerful government organizations are given names and stories and distinct appealing character designs. Meanwhile the people they’re fighting, people who aren’t backed by some of the most powerful states the world has ever seen, people who are presumably just citizens of the countries in which they reside who’ve chosen to fight for something…those people aren’t even given faces.
I don’t think Ubisoft did this on purpose, but regardless of intent the message is clear. Siege is propaganda for every elite “counter-terrorism” force it portrays in it’s Operators. Thankfully the core of Siege revolves around these hero-like operators fighting each other, instead of gunning down people denied names and faces and humanity who never really stood a chance against the powers that be.