Carriages: Well, the first time I played DX:HD, of course I tried both carriages.
That said, in the re-playthrough I just finished last week I always used the Aug carriage, even though reaching it meant a few additional seconds of walking compared to using the closer “Naturals” carriage. I don’t think there was any politics involved in that choice; it was more a matter of avoiding any possible complications with the state police that Eidos might have cleverly hidden.
(Note: I understand this misses some of the disturbed response you’ve described you personally felt when you realized you were going along with the segregation. It may be that rationalizing my own choice as one merely about minmaxing gameplay – choosing to pop out of the magic circle, to be less immersed – was a way to avoid confronting this kind of emotional response to the dramatization of a painfully broken social condition, even in “just a game” form.)
This is interesting to think about, though, especially if you recall the supposed controversy – ginned-up largely by one person – over Eidos’ using “digital apartheid” as a marketing term in their game promos, and using “Aug Lives Matter” as an unremarked piece of narrative aesthetic in the game (alongside many others). There’s no question Eidos were deliberately connecting the Augs/Naturals representations in the Adam Jensen-specific Deus Ex games to separatist movements in real human history, and that this was done as a tool for creating a story-based reason for danger that feels plausible.
And I’d say there’s also no question that the way Eidos dramatized this antagonism in their Deus Ex games – in presenting both viewpoints as having some virtue, and also as being twisted and misused by extremists – is a direct and faithful homage to the way that the Ion Storm team steadfastly refused to take sides on the “security versus liberty” antagonism highlighted by their game. I give Eidos Montreal great credit for both understanding the value of being fair in presenting a hard question of social value, and for insisting that it’s up to the player, not the developer, to decide how to answer that question.
I think there’s room for art games in which the play experience walks the player through the developer’s opinion on some issue. I support the freedom of developers to make such games.
But I think the game whose creators work hard to fairly present opposing perspectives on a question of how people should organize their society, and leave answering that question to the player, is by far the more interesting kind of game to make. To my mind no game has ever done this better than the original Deus Ex… but the Eidos prequels were very worthy efforts to approach that level of hard fairness.
And the carriage choice was a small but interesting piece of that effort.