How The Division Plays Up Militia Fantasies

On Wednesday, January 6th, an insurrection took place in Washington DC. Armed, white supremacists invaded the US Capitol, while Congress was in session, in an attempt to interrupt certification of a legit election process. It was a sight never before seen. The imagery is eerily similar to Tom Clancy’s “The Division” series – part 2 specifically. The Division attracted a demographic that interprets the title as a militia-power fantasy. The fantasy of taking control back in “your hands” is the core principle they believe. Several people, online, saw the news of the US Capitol and made parallels themselves. But why are they so similar? This isn’t about video games causing acts of violence, radicalizing people, or banning anything – people do like to jump the gun online.

The Militia Power Fantasy is simple. It praises the military while simultaneously seeing themselves as a reserve force or counter-ops to take them on. That’s the thought process. If the government fails them, it’s up to them to fight the threat even if it’s the government. They also think they’ll have to establish their own power since the government failed them. It dances close to fascism and a paranoid society. They frame every person physically different as a threat. The average militiaman is a white, middle-aged male thus people of color, and younger generations are posed as threats unless they work for them.

In the game, The Division drops the player in Manhattan as a deep-state sleeper agent to save New York after a small-pox pandemic brings Civil Unrest in the country. Narratively, The Division counters what militias believe as it represents the deep-state conspiracy and government control. However, in the broad generalization of the game, the player controls an armed citizen, wearing tacticool gear (a term meaning tactical gear as a fashion statement) over their casual attire while clearing the street of bad guys to maintain government control is solely that fantasy. They see themselves as that avatar because they like to dress in that manner and fantasize taking back the country or the streets.

The zero tolerance in the game is akin to what Trump has said during the BLM protests last summer, “When the looting starts. The shooting starts”; You have free reign to shoot on site at small groups or individuals looting supplies, the same supplies you end up looting. These NPCs are framed as the same way militias view enemies of everyday people threatening their social circle.

Look at the three gangs that form the main antagonists of the game: The “Rikers” are the prisoners of Rikers island prison that lies off the coast of The Bronx. They are the most obvious member of what The Division presents as societies’ dangerous underclass—known criminals. The “Cleaners” are former sanitation workers, who have decided that the solution to the virus is to burn it out of the city. A gang of blue-collar garbage men and janitors equipped with flamethrowers, they represent the lowest rung of the working class. The third gang are the “Rioters,” a majority black, generic street gang, decked in hoodies and caps that spend their time looting electronics stores and dead bodies. Perhaps the laziest and most repugnant of all the game’s representations…

The perverse ideology of The Division – Kill Screen GARETH DAMIAN MARTIN@jumpovertheage

The sequel corrected this as the enemies are re-designed as lunatic gangs and has an extremist militia headquartered in The Capitol, that they took over. A striking parallel to what is going on right now.

It’s hard to ignore the real world similarities and The Division series especially as real life events become closer and closer. Last Spring, when the country was in lockdown, many people compared the viral outbreak to The Division’s. With the real Capitol attacked and still under threat by extremists, it’s comparable now. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Again, this isn’t about changing the series and accusing it of causing or radicalizing any real life events but the fact is the game plays up the militia fantasy.

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