Tom Clancy’s: The Division — Collapse

Capitalism and conspiracies between real pandemic scenarios and the game’s futuristic world.

Global collapse — In an interconnected world, the complexity of telecommunications, transport and security systems underline the high risk of a rapid and uncontrollable total cristi. Tom Clancy’s The Division’s first promotional video (P. Clair, 2013) metaphorically testifies to the infrastructural fragility of contemporary society, simulating the devastating and irremediable consequences in the event of a scenario of total crisis.

This document examines in brief Collapse (3:16; Patrick Clair, 2013), promotional video of Tom Clancy’s: The Division (Massive/Ubisoft, 2016)
The research considers the product and its materials by studying the creative choices, the informative properties, the modalities of visual representation and promotion.

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1. Analysis

Introductory note: Tom Clancy’s: The Division (Massive Entertainment/ Ubisoft, 2016) is set in New York after a devastating pandemic originating from contaminated money spread during Black Friday. The city is now in total anarchy, with quarantine areas and criminal groups fighting to survive. While the situation seems now irremediable, special agents of the government’s Strategic Homeland Division (SHD) join forces to save the survivors and regain New York, investigating the mysterious cause of the pandemic.

Introduced during the E3 2013 event by Ubisoft president, Yves Guillemot, Collapse was first presented to the public as an introductory prologue to the revelation of the first gameplay of Tom Clancy’s: The Division, representing the global issues associated with a bioterrorism emergency.

Conceived in documentary style, Collapse emphasizes the economic, technological, energy and cultural interdependence of globalized society, highlighting its structural problems. Oil, electricity, goods, transport: in an interconnected global system all humanity is at risk. Imagining a pandemic originating from a pathogen spread during Black Friday, the five main phases of a hypothetical civil crisis scenario are then described.

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“Our lifestyle, our security, our safety depends on a delicate an unstable economy. Oil, power, shipping, transport: we live in a complex world. And the more complex it gets, the more fragile it becomes. And what’s fueling this system? Money.”

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1.1. Narrative structure (selection of primary elements):

  1. Documentary reference
    (2001, real Dark Winter operation [1]: government exercise in case of bioterrorist attack in the United States)
  2. Notion of global vulnerability
    (safety, health, economy, oil, energy, shipping, and transport are interconnected in a complex economic system fueled by money)
  3. Statistics
    (US consumer spending: 90 billion in a single day of shopping; movement of over 200 million people on Black Friday)
  4. Scientific concept (period of life of a virus on a banknote: 17 days)
  5. Alarmist note (future pandemic, perhaps during Black Friday).
  6. Method of contagion (contaminated money, millions of infected)
  7. Descriptions of stages of collapse in five days
    (hospitals in crisis, panic, quarantine areas, rationed resources, blockade of transports, blockade of international trade, fuel depletion, stock market collapse, absence of energy, absence of goods, depletion of water resources, beginning of survival period).
  8. Documentary reference
    (2007; introduction of Presidential Directive “Directive 51”)
  9. Conspiracy alert
    (references to deviant government agencies, terrorist cells, infiltrated agents)
  10. Existential question
    (the world is fragile and we will all be condemned to fight to survive; what will you be willing to do to save civilization?)
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“One day there will be a pandemic. It could begin during the crush of Black Friday sales. A pathogen will jump from tainted banknotes to human skin unto food, toys, children and loved ones.“

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1.2. Information elements:

  • National vulnerability
    - In 2001, a simulation exercise (called Dark Winter) tested the US government’s operational capabilities in the event of a bioterrorist attack. The simulation predicted: collapse of institutions, unrest, and a significant number of civilian deaths.
    - The simulation underlined the vulnerability of today’s contemporary society: lifestyle, safety, health, are dependent on an economy with unstable mechanisms. Oil, energy, trade, transport: the world is based on a global supply chain of goods and resources based on precise timing fueled by money.
  • Banknotes
    - Money is the foundation of the system: American citizens can spend over $ 90 billion in a single day. In 2012, in the United States, over 200 million people passed through stores on Black Friday.
    - A flu virus can survive on a banknote for up to 17 days.
    - In a hypothetical pandemic during Black Friday, a pathogen contained in banknotes could contaminate humans, also spreading to food, objects and loved ones.
    –At the time when patient zero shows the first symptoms, millions of people are already infected.
  • Total crisis
    The crisis, summarized in five days, consists of:
    - Day 1: hospitals and healthcare facilities reach operational collapse, generating panic.
    - D2: quarantine areas are established; food resources and reserves are rationed; transport traffic is blocked.
    - D3: international trade stops; oil and fuel reserves run out; stock exchange and stock market crash.
    - D4: energy production is zeroed; the commercial availability of products is insufficient; the water reserves run out.
    - D5: hunger and despair push people to fight for survival. Every person is a potential hostile threat.
  • Directive 51
    In 2007 a new presidential directive, known as Directive 51[2], prepared the official instructions for reacting to a potential risk of catastrophic event. Secret agencies, dormant cells and undercover agents may be prepared to destabilize national security.
  • Future pandemic
    The world is destined to collapse and when a catastrophe occurs there will be no resources to save everyone. What actions will serve to save society?
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“Once hunger and despair take over, people will do anything for survival. […] Everyone will be a potential threat.”

“In 2007 a new presidential directive was signed quietly into law. This maps out the government’s response to a crisis. It is known as Directive 51. There are rumours of shadow agencies, sleeper cells, covert agents. But nothing can be confirmed.”

“Our complex world is primed for breakdown. And once the chaos strikes there won’t be resources to save us all. The only question left is: what will it take to save what remains?”

1.3. Dialogue transcription

—In 2001, a real world exercise test the emergency response to bioterror attack on the continent of the United States. The operation was called Dark Winter. And in just a few days the simulation spiraled out of control. The operation predicted a rapid breakdown in essential institutions, civil disorders, and massive civilian casualties.

Dark Winter has revealed how vulnerable we’ve become.

Our lifestyle, our security, our safety depends on a delicate and unstable economy.
We created a system so complicated we no longer understand how control it.
Oil, power, shipping, transport: we live in a complex world.
And the more complex it gets, the more fragile it becomes.

The system is build on a global supply chain to get things where they’re needed just in time. We created a house of card.
Remove just one, and everything falls apart.

And what’s fueling this system?

Money.
Americans can spend 90 billion dollars in a single day of shipping.
Last year 200 million people swarmed at local stores on November 23rd.
We call that day: Black Friday.

Did you know that a flu virus can survive on a surface of a banknote up to 17 days? One day there will be a pandemic. It could begin during the crush of Black Friday sales.

A pathogen will jump from a tainted banknotes to human skin, unto food, toys, chieldren and loved ones.

By the time patient zero feels the first sore throat, millions of people will already be infected.

From this point the breakdown will happen fast.
Day 1: Hospitals will reach capacity. Panic will strike.
Day 2: Quarantine zone will be established. Resources will be rationed. Transport will go into lockdown.
Day 3: International trade will stop. Oil will dry up. Stock market will collapse.
The power will fail. Shelves will be empty. The taps will run dry.
And once hunger and despair take hold people would do anything for survival.
By day 5 everyone will be a potential threat.

In 2007 a new presidential directive were signed quietly into law. This maps out the government’s response to a crisis. A plan to cope with a real Dark Winter. It is known as Directive 51. There are rumours of shadow agencies, sleeper cells, cover agents, but nothing can be confirmed.

Our complex world is primed for breakdown, and once the chaos strikes there won’t be resources to save us all.

The only question left is: what will it take to save what remains?—

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Viral simulations — Exploring the time interval preceding and interconnected to the videogame story of Tom Clancy’s: The Division (Ubisoft, 2016), the Collapse site operates as a realistic crisis simulator by calculating the risks of civil emergency in the event of a global pandemic using satellite data and real mathematical models. By impersonating the patient zero infected with a deadly virus, the user takes an interactive narrative path by deciding what actions to take to react to the symptoms (staying at home, going to the pharmacy or hospital, etc.) with the side effect of consciously promoting the contagion of millions of people and cause disastrous effects. https://bit.ly/2QRnMPW

Notes

[1] With the aim of measuring the organizational efficiency of institutional systems, in June 2001 (22–23) the US government organized a realistic exercise to simulate a national security crisis after a bioterrorist smallpox attack. The exercise took place on Andrews Air Force Base, Washington, D.C. covering a 14-day narrative interval with the participation of government officials, military personnel, and journalists. https://bit.ly/2Um7xg6

[2] Signed by President George W. Bush, the directive defines emergency government set-up procedures in the event of a catastrophic event. https://bit.ly/39qvfMu

Study method and sources
This document is the result of a compilation process created with scientific and accessibility requirements. Special care has therefore been devoted to coherently structuring the texts and analysis sections, to selecting functional visual devices, and to providing verified information by correctly citing sources of documentation, with the final objective of sharing useful material for the purposes of study, criticism and information.

Legal notice
The iconographic material, the trademarks (registered or unregistered) and all the information reported as being in any case protected belong to the respective owners. The internal use of protected material responds exclusively to a scientific and cultural intent.

The author releases the document through the license:

  • Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0.
    This allows third parties to share the published material indicating the origin, respecting the same type of original license and prohibiting the use for commercial purposes.

Contacts
Humenhoid is a creative research unit specialized in immersive entertainment and transmedia storytelling, with focus on cinema, tv series, and video games.

For information, communications or proposals for collaboration write to
Enrico Granzotto | e@humenhoid.com | Humenhoid.com

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I’m a creative research unit specialized in immersive entertainment and transmedia storytelling with focus on cinema, tv series, and videogames | humenhoid.com

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