Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Art Features ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reference

Concept art for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided features a reference to protest group Black Lives Matter, with a protester depicted holding up a sign reading “Aug Lives Matter.” 

Developed by Eidos Montreal’s team of artists, the series of concept pieces aims to show what the world would look like following the “aug incident,” the climactic event that took place at the end of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Publisher Square Enix has already been criticized for it describing the prejudice faced by the augmented humans featured in Mankind Divided’s story as a “mechanical apartheid,” with it now drawing on more examples of real-world prejudice in order to continue to hammer home its social commentary.

The artwork, shown above, features a protester holding up the sign “Aug Lives Matter” in a futuristic recreation of the city of Moscow, a clear reference to the anti-racism protest group Black Lives Matter. In another image, a closed-off area that shares similarities to a refugee camp features the message “build bridges not walls” spray-painted on its floor which, when you consider that one of the key policies of US presidential candidate Donald Trump is to build a wall between the US and Mexico to prevent immigration, could be a nod to the current political climate in the States.

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Developers Eidos Montreal are clearly looking to create a mature narrative that parallels real-world racial tensions felt across the west, but the use of the term “mechanical apartheid” as a PR buzzword rubbed people up the wrong way, and so it’s likely that the use of “Aug Lives Matter” will have a similar effect.

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The game’s art director Jonathan Jacques-Belletete previously complained about the controversy surrounding its use of the term mechanical apartheid, telling Polygon: “It’s a form of art, the people outside don’t think it’s art, it’s just stupid games. We’re fighting against those people. And then when we’re dealing with serious subjects suddenly we’re treated as little kids that are just doing video games again. This whole thing is completely ridiculous.”

Video games have a long history of failing to carefully handle sensitive subject matter, so it is hoped that Deus Ex: Mankind Divided won’t follow suit. We’ll have to wait until the finished game releases on August 23 to discover whether or not that’s the case.