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Quake’s latest Champion is ‘woke AF,’ according to Bethesda

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Woke as only an AI-controlled killing machine can be

Bethesda announced a new playable character for its free-to-play arena shooter, Quake Champions. Clutch is an AI-controlled robotic killing machine. Unfortunately, the publisher has elected to refer to the robot as “woke AF,” evoking the slang term used to refer to the realization of racial and social prejudices in the world around you.

Being or staying woke is a turn of phrase on the rise, according to Massachusetts-based dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster. It traces the word’s “transformation into a byword of social awareness” back to an Erykah Badu song, “Master Teacher,” where the refrain “I stay woke” occurred throughout.

“Stay woke became a watch word in parts of the black community for those who were self-aware, questioning the dominant paradigm and striving for something better,” writes Merriam-Webster in its Words We’re Watching column. “But stay woke and woke became part of a wider discussion in 2014, immediately following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The word woke became entwined with the Black Lives Matter movement; instead of just being a word that signaled awareness of injustice or racial tension, it became a word of action. Activists were woke and called on others to stay woke.”

In the context of Quake Champions, the latest iteration of the decades-old franchise, Clutch apparently gets “woke” to how staid his life is as a mining robot, leading him to participate against other sentient creatures in an intra-planar deathsport. His powers include the active ability to erect a powerful barrier to protect himself and his allies for a time, and the passive ability to soak up more damage than other characters. As a trade off, he appears to move much slower.