Maybe you've been vacationing on Pitcairn Island since the beginning of April and you haven't gotten news yet, but a month or so ago millions of documents were leaked to the press from the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama. These papers reveal how hundreds, or potentially thousands of wealthy individuals have been using offshore companies, banks and law firms to avoid paying taxes in their home countries.
Leaving aside questions of whether or not this kind of shit should be legal at all, the probability is that some of it is not. I personally think tax avoidance (the legal optimization of your finances to minimize your tax payable) kind of sucks to begin with - for the simple fact that it disproportionately benefits people who already have lots of money and can hire lawyers and accountants to help them pay less tax. Tax evasion (the illegal concealment of income to avoid paying tax) is an actual crime - the crime that got Al Capone sent to prison. Money laundering is the transformation of money made through criminal enterprise (such as dealing in arms, slavery, drugs, conflict minerals, etc) into 'not-illegal' money. Law firms like Mossack Fonseca, and the offshore banks they work with, and the shell companies they create, explicitly, openly and legally help wealthy people avoid taxation. Unfortunately the same systems and structures they use to do so can (and are) used for tax evasion and money laundering. I think that sucks.
Anyway, the Prime Minister of Iceland was already forced to resign because of his involvement in this mess, but his is only the highest profile head to roll so far. Acting and former Heads of State and their immediate family members from over 40 countries appear to be named in the leaked documents along with many other wealthy individuals and public figures. Apparently on Monday, May 9th, a giant list will be published of all the people connected to the couple of hundred thousand offshore companies that have been created through Mossack Fonseca for the purposes of doing international business, avoiding taxes, evading taxes, cleaning the bloodstains off their cash, or hiding the fact that they simply stole it outright from the budgets of very countries they are supposed to be running.
While all of this has been going down, I got to reminiscing with Mathieu Berube, who I work with here at Ubi in Toronto. Mathieu was a level designer who worked with me back on the first Splinter Cell, and was the LD who built the Panama Bank level of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, which I personally think is the best Splinter Cell level ever made. In the story of the game, MCAS Banco de Panama was the financial middle-man able to conceal the people involved in the arms-for-information transaction between Displace International, Zherkezhi, and Peruvian revolutionary-wannabe Hugo Lacerda. Mathieu and I joked about how, when you work on these kinds of near-future political thriller kinds of games, you often end up predicting the future: the Bank level in Chaos Theory was ultimately about the power of offshore banks to make these kinds of illegal transactions anonymous.
After talking about it, we realized that it would be cool to see if we could get the game up and running and play through the level again while talking about how we designed and built it. It would also give us a chance to rant incoherently about our frustrations with all the shitheels who are screwing the rest of us by not paying their fair share. So that's what we did - we dug up a 360 (SCCT was on the original XBox, but was made backwards compatible) and did a run through and talked about some of the decisions we made.
So we made a Let's Play...
PS Making this video is not in any way intended to imply we are working on any particular game. What we're working on is unannounced. The fact that we're talking about Chaos Theory is a coincidence related to current events and nothing more.