Why the Backlash Against Mortal Kombat 11?

By Marc W. Polite

The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.” – George Orwell

Greetings, my readers. It’s been a while since I have done a gaming post, so I figured- why not talk about the latest Mortal Kombat game? I do have it, so I can discuss it.

Be forewarned, this post is not a review of Mortal Kombat 11. To be more accurate, this post is a commentary on the conversation around the game that we see on social media, and where it’s coming from.

Now, those of you who are not familiar with the gamer culture, may not have heard the controversy over the ending of one character in the game. Without telling you who the final boss is, the theme is that whoever defeats this being gets their powers- to go back in time and do as they want. In Jax’s ending, he goes back in time and makes it so that slavery never happens. Some fans, had a fit, calling this “racist” .. Okay.

This is what fans have a problem with? A fictional ending where slavery is erased from history is too much for some. But, other characters endings that end up with the world being destroyed is just fine. Mkay.

Also, there was a kerfuffle about the costumes of the female characters being adjusted in this game to be less revealing than in past games. Well, first off, this makes sense because a revealing costume would be pretty impractical in a fight to the death. Second, this ain’t Dead or Alive. Yes, shots fired.

Unfortunately, there is a backwards looking contingent of people within gamer culture that is there prominently. When we hear phrases like “This game has gone all SJW” or “this game is too woke now”, its not so sophisticated coded language for how gaming companies are somehow wrong for responding to what is happening in the wider society.

It means that there’s in some cases, a motive that’s a bit more sinister behind the avalanche of bad reviews of this game than the complaints about the slower pace and how much “grinding” has to happen to earn extras.

It’s the same sentiments that were expressed against the newer Star Wars films over the prominence of female characters. These alt right adjacent attitudes stew on YouTube channels and comment sections, but it is reflective of backlash against any progressive expression.

While at the end of the day, it’s just a video game- these sentiments expressed are very real.