Detroit - Become Human's missed opportunity

Detroit: Become Human is a heavily story-driven video game written and directed by David Cage about android civil rights. David Cage likes to make video games that could have easily just been visual novels and could honestly be considered a more of a sub-genre, due to how advance the engine is compared to traditionally games of it’s type. It’s really good as a video game. But it’s story and decisions you make fall flat on it’s face.

As I mentioned, the story is about civil rights. Androids are fighting for their right to be treated equal amongst society because humans hate them for some reason we’re never really given outside of a few isolated cases of abuse. Then there is one level where you have to investigate a android strip club where the owner lists some pretty valid pros to having one over humans (i.e. no STDs) and that’s why people come. Meanwhile, early in the game you can also pick up a magazine saying how fans are loving an android boy band so much that they won a prize for Best New Artist. All of this kinda undermines game’s overarching narrative.

I could write an entire essay about how it fails at delivering it’s civil rights message but it’s been said way better then me that I want to focus on another aspect. Income inequality. I’ve already listed two examples of how androids replacing human jobs. It’s very clear throughout how much androids have taken over the workforce. It would have been a great justification for humans to be angry at androids but it’s only brought up once during the start of Markus’ story when he is stopped by protesters. A women literally walks up to him after he’s been kicked to the ground and says, “he can steal our jobs, but can’t even stand up!” Valid reason to be angry but that motivation is never brought up again throughout the course of any of the character’s story arcs - not even Connor’s, the investigator trying to uncover the reasons behind the android uprising. We never know the moviations behind most, if not all, are dead already.

Basing it on income inequality is way more grounded in reality because of robots already taking over lower to middle class jobs alongside the ever growing presense of AI in our lives with smart assistants like Alexa or Siri, for example. A perfect manifestation of this analogy would be an android.

There is nothing wrong with using androids to explore what makes us human. We do it all the time. That being said, I’m not sure tacking on every civil rights trope known to man was the best way of going about it.

Written on July 9, 2020