CI Games, the developers of the Sniper: Ghost Warrior series, have apologized for a recent press event that had members of the media pretend to shoot “bad guys” dressed as Arab stereotypes.
The event, which took place earlier this month, was intended to promote Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 as written about by TheGamer. It took place at a tactical training facility for police and military in San Diego called Strategic Operations, Inc. and was led by a group called Incredible Adventures, which advertises “extreme military counter-terrorism training” for civilians.
The group was guided through a day of military training exercises in a mock-village that TheGamer described as “the Middle-East as we’re often shown it via Western media – a gross, twisted doppelganger that doesn’t actually represent life in that part of the world at all.”
— CI Games (@CIGamesOfficial) June 24, 2021
Activities included using airsoft-like guns to fire at actors described as “bad guys” or “enemies” wearing white robes and keffiyehs, culminating in a photo opportunity where the media participants were asked to raise their fists at the actors, who were “instructed to put their hands in the air and ululate like a jihadist.” A flag displaying “Trump 2024: The Revenge Tour” flew from the facility’s main building.
According to the article, Sniper: Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 review codes had already been sent out at this time and the game had been released the day before. While there were stations to play the game at the event, there was no time allotted to do so.
CI Games’ apology for the event notes that it is based in Poland, and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the studio was unable to be directly involved in the event. Its intention, it says, was to provide an authentic US Navy Seal training experience akin to what players might experience in Contracts 2. It added that CI Games had asked the event company to change enemy outfits to be more in keeping with what is seen in the game, but its request was declined to preserve the training event’s “authenticity.”
It’s worth noting that Contracts 2 is still set in the Middle East and involves fighting off a local crime syndicate, as other games with similar settings and premises draw criticism for their depictions of Arabs as enemies.
— Rus McLaughlin (@rusmclaughlin) June 24, 2021
“We try very hard to ensure we’re avoiding stereotypes or representing cultures in any negative way,” the apology reads. “Respect and tolerance are keystones of our company’s culture and we were distressed to discover that an event meant to be fun and engaging for participants had instead caused offense for some attendees.”
“…We would like to apologize directly to Eric Switzer from The Gamer and to any other attendees who found the event offensive. Although the COVID restrictions made arranging the event unusually difficult, we take full responsibility and will work hard to ensure that in future any events associated with the Sniper Ghost Warrior franchise live up to the standards of respect and tolerance that we set ourselves.”
IGN has reached out to UberStrategist PR, the PR firm through which the event was organized, for additional comment.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.