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Deus Ex and Mass Effect devs argue over 'Aug Lives Matter'

Quick catch up if you've missed it: a recent piece of Deus Ex Mankind Divided concept art uses the phrase 'Aug Lives Matter', obviously referencing the 'Black Lives Matter' movement. And understandably that's upset people. 

Let's just skip right past the 'all lives' argument, because not 'all' lives face discrimination and threats based on appearance. That's the point of the statement. So, obviously, people have some quite strong opinions of a game co-opting such a sensitive phrase.

Deus Ex has already used things like 'Mechanical Apartheid' to help colour its portrayal of a normal/augmented split in humanity. That alone raised a few eyebrows, but less of a fuss due its more historical context. This involves something that is an issue now. 

The conflict's spilled out onto Twitter where Andre Vu, Deus Ex Mankind Divided's global executive brand director and Manveer Heir, Mass Effect: Andromeda gameplay designer, have discussed the situation at length:

You can see the full exchange here. I agree with Manveer. Whenever the phrase may have entered the game's production and in whatever context, there's no escaping it's taking from a current and highly sensitive movement that's affecting people everyday. 

If there's a workable justification in-game, as Andre seems to suggest, then let the game explain it - don't pull out a single frame with no context. All games, films and fiction absorb real world stuff but there's a difference between using it to tell a story or enhance a narrative, and just 'using' it. 

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Leon Hurley
Leon Hurley

I'm currently GamesRadar's Senior Guides Co-ordinator, which means I've had a hand in producing or writing all of the guide and tips content on the site. I also write reviews, previews and features, and do video. Previously I worked for Kotaku, and the Official PlayStation Magazine and website. I'm a big fan of open world games, horror, and narrative adventures.