Politics in Gaming

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Ghost120x

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#1 Ghost120x
Member since 2009 • 5559 Posts

Not sure if this belongs here so feel free to remove.

Anyway, I saw this topic on another forum (which will not be named) called "Name a video game that you believe is apolitical and someone will explain to you why it isn't."

I have to say this is the dumbest thing I heard along with the responses. I feel the "all games have politics" argument is very misdirected. Plus the nature of being political is subjective and broad.

In my opinion, I would like to believe that most people on the other side of the debate like myself are fine with politics used for world building and story purposes. It's when politics is used in gaming as a vehicle to push an argument or belief centered around current or past real-world political events and movements.

The underlined to me gets a big fat NOPE. The reason is simple: I don't and will never like advertisements in my games. When devs and publishers do this they are essentially making an ad game like Pepsiman etc. and most of the time, these kinds of games are used solely to get a quick buck or raise brand awareness rather than being of any quality.

I would greatly dislike a future where ads are in games much less political ones pushing statements.

So SW, what's your opinion on politics in games? What games are do you play that you feel is political in the "good" way or the "bad"way and why?

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lundy86_4

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#2 lundy86_4
Member since 2003 • 55175 Posts

Does not belong in any way, shape, or form... Sorry, TC.

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Pedro

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#3 Pedro  Online
Member since 2002 • 37889 Posts

Things are always political when you disagree with the core idealogy. That's just the way it is.

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Ghost120x

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#4  Edited By Ghost120x
Member since 2009 • 5559 Posts

@lundy86_4: Damn! Shot down on the first post lol. Anyway, I forgot to name which game I like to play. I like the Valkyria Chronicles series. It's centered around war which is a political as it gets, but I don't get a vibe like "War is bad" like a don't smoke commercial.

I also love the Metal Gear series which uses a variety of political references as a setting for fictional events. While there are moments where the game can get preachy, it doesn't feel like an agenda is being pushed. Kojima masterfully rides on a very thin line on pushing a political agenda but still working in fiction to the point where the universe feels like its own and you can still be immersed.

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onesiphorus

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#5 onesiphorus
Member since 2014 • 3125 Posts

This topic could be brought to the Political Gamers forum where political topics can be openly discussed. System Wars is a place to discuss systems and their games, not politics.

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DaVillain-

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#6 DaVillain-
Member since 2014 • 41136 Posts

@lundy86_4 said:

Does not belong in any way, shape, or form... Sorry, TC.

@onesiphorus said:

This topic could be brought to the Political Gamers forum where political topics can be openly discussed. System Wars is a place to discuss systems and their games, not politics.

All very correct everyone. And so with that, I'll be moving this thread to Political Gamers. Keep in mind, Political Gamers is basically System Wars mirror reflection.

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judaspete

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#7  Edited By judaspete
Member since 2005 • 3569 Posts

Whatever the creator wants to do, they should do. If they feel like putting politics into the narative adds something to the game, more power to them. Hell, if they create a game for the sole purpose of pushing an agenda or whatever, that's up to them too. Anyone who doesn't like the message is free to whine about it on a forum, or you know, play something else.

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phbz

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#8  Edited By phbz
Member since 2009 • 5264 Posts

I have no problems whatsoever with politics in games, books, movies, music, etc. I rather have creators putting their personal views and feeling into their creations, even if I don't agree with.

And even if politics are used just for world building, the way those politics shape the world come from the creators bias on the subject. I wouldn't go as far as to say EVERY single game is political in some form, but most are.

The thing is that once you abandon conformism you'll get people upset. I know people who complain about politics in movies, yet they'll enjoy Rocky IV without any complaint.

Art, even when it becomes entertainment, is made by individuals. Many of them with passions and interests and a genuine desire of self-expression. Is self-expression advertising? Well, maybe. But imo the issue is not so much with the creation side of things, nor is it from the consumer. Art/entertainment always had a disruptive influence. It's just that feedback channels from the consumer side are amplified and there's s lot of dumb people left and right that get upset by anything that doesn't exactly conforms to their views.

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mattbbpl

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#9 mattbbpl  Online
Member since 2006 • 18037 Posts

"It's when politics is used in gaming as a vehicle to push an argument or belief centered around current or past real-world political events and movements."

I'm definitely fine with this, and enjoy it immensely. I love commentary or thought experiments in media.

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LeicaM6

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#10  Edited By LeicaM6
Member since 2019 • 532 Posts

Nothing wrong with it. Only ignorant fools are scared of media that forces them to think critically and engage with ideas.

@lundy86_4 said:

Does not belong in any way, shape, or form... Sorry, TC.

The fact that this is coming from someone with an avatar of Final Fantasy VII is hilarious. In that game you're essentially playing as eco-terrorists attempting to overthrow a giant mega corporation who is using the planet's resources until everything on it dies. That's pretty blatantly political.

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Ghost120x

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#11  Edited By Ghost120x
Member since 2009 • 5559 Posts

@mattbbpl said:

"It's when politics is used in gaming as a vehicle to push an argument or belief centered around current or past real-world political events and movements."

I'm definitely fine with this, and enjoy it immensely. I love commentary or thought experiments in media.

I'm curious. Would you be fine with it If a game was pushing so hard that it feels like a commercial or propaganda to get you to sign, enlist or do something? Everywhere you walk in said game has the same message plastered everywhere. You can hear faint whispers of supposed message in loading screens etc.

Of course this is purely hypothetical there is no such game that does this except for something like Pepsi Invaders. The main thing about said hypothetical game would be that it sounds repetitive, unimaginative and not to mention boring. Also they are probably ineffective which is why blatant games like these are not around like they were in 90s.

In my opinion, I say be careful for what you are indifferent or fine with before it becomes a thing. Just like paying to access online functions on consoles. I say this as one of the people who was fine with it at one point in time. I hope we never reach that point with politics but if it does, I will most definitely quit gaming. My backlog is big enough to last the rest of my lifetime :P

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Eoten

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#12 Eoten
Member since 2020 • 263 Posts

Hmm, repetitive, unimaginative, and boring. Sounds like Skyrim to me, and that game has a main story line centered around politics.

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mattbbpl

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#13 mattbbpl  Online
Member since 2006 • 18037 Posts

@Ghost120x said:
@mattbbpl said:

"It's when politics is used in gaming as a vehicle to push an argument or belief centered around current or past real-world political events and movements."

I'm definitely fine with this, and enjoy it immensely. I love commentary or thought experiments in media.

I'm curious. Would you be fine with it If a game was pushing so hard that it feels like a commercial or propaganda to get you to sign, enlist or do something? Everywhere you walk in said game has the same message plastered everywhere. You can hear faint whispers of supposed message in loading screens etc.

Of course this is purely hypothetical there is no such game that does this except for something like Pepsi Invaders. The main thing about said hypothetical game would be that it sounds repetitive, unimaginative and not to mention boring. Also they are probably ineffective which is why blatant games like these are not around like they were in 90s.

In my opinion, I say be careful for what you are indifferent or fine with before it becomes a thing. Just like paying to access online functions on consoles. I say this as one of the people who was fine with it at one point in time. I hope we never reach that point with politics but if it does, I will most definitely quit gaming. My backlog is big enough to last the rest of my lifetime :P

It sounds like a crappy game, but largely due to implementation rather than content.

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#14 nintendoboy16
Member since 2007 • 37170 Posts

Did you read Tim Sweeney's awful statement, TC? Just curious.

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Shmiity

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#15 Shmiity
Member since 2006 • 6391 Posts

Everything is political. Socio, economic, racial... it all is. Bioshock was all politics. Your ideologies are going to invade your art. Like, it wasnt funny in Persona 5 when they make fun of that gay couple several times during the game. It comes off as mean/campy/prejudice.

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Ghost120x

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#16 Ghost120x
Member since 2009 • 5559 Posts

@nintendoboy16 said:

Did you read Tim Sweeney's awful statement, TC? Just curious.

Ha! I learned about Sweeney making news shortly after I made this thread lol. I'm guessing that's what started the thread at the other forum I mentioned because they all sound personally attacked.

I do think his statement was poorly worded but I sort of agree. Many of the bigger publishers and devs are not pushing these statements from the heart, but only because it is current and good for business. It is really evident when a company after getting backlash from either side of the argument, quickly change their game ("beliefs") within a blink of an eye.

People should stop championing companies that side with their political beliefs because it is only a ruse to get into your pocket and promote brand advocacy. They only do this because people spread the word on social media and it makes them money. Positive reinforcement etc.

Heck, even Nike had a huge backlash a while back and all the attention both positive and negative gave them attention and more importantly money. I say this as a marketer.

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Maroxad

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#17  Edited By Maroxad
Member since 2007 • 15516 Posts

Anything can be seen as political by someone. Anita found Super Mario Bros to be misogynist. Another person may find the option to be gay in Mass Effect to be too political. Anything that disagrees or doesnt fit in right with one's core ideology may be seen as political, which means that once again, EVERYTHING is political to SOMEONE out there.

Personally, I say that game's don't need to be political but they shouldn't shy away from it either. Politics is a good way to add depth or nuance to a villain's motivations aside from "Har Har Har, I am evil". JRPGs like Fire Emblem (2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 16) and Final Fantasy (7, Tactics, Heavensward) have much stronger writing when their storylines are political dramas as opposed to popcorn fantasy. Life inspires art and dev's shouldnt hold back on their vision regardless of what inspiration they have.

Edit: On a side note. I would argue games aren't quite as political as they were in the 90's, early 00's. Especially with some devs shying away from politics in order to be politically correct to a certain demographic of thin skinned crybabies who yell "woke" at everything. I for one, don't like it when writers hold back.

@Ghost120x said:

@lundy86_4: Damn! Shot down on the first post lol. Anyway, I forgot to name which game I like to play. I like the Valkyria Chronicles series. It's centered around war which is a political as it gets, but I don't get a vibe like "War is bad" like a don't smoke commercial.

I also love the Metal Gear series which uses a variety of political references as a setting for fictional events. While there are moments where the game can get preachy, it doesn't feel like an agenda is being pushed. Kojima masterfully rides on a very thin line on pushing a political agenda but still working in fiction to the point where the universe feels like its own and you can still be immersed.

Valkyria Chronicles had very strong anti-racism vibes. With several key chapters being based around the anti-darscen bigotry and even one of the main character's development being her overcoming her racism towards darscens.

Metal Gear is incredibly preachy. But that is honestly part of its charm.

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#18  Edited By LeftRightDivide
Member since 2020 • 66 Posts

@Maroxad said:

Mass Effect to be too political.

Cora insisting that she was an Asari Commando got on my nerves.

It explains the bad writing. They decided to diversify the writers and hired a gender studies major who decided, why can't a human identify as an Asari? Apparently Cora was assigned the wrong species at birth.

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#19 Stevo_the_gamer  Moderator
Member since 2004 • 45587 Posts

Some games do an excellent job of political themes and satire. Grand Theft Auto 5 is a perfect example with some of their back story, radio shows, and storylines. Another great example was Far Cry 5 with all the prepper stuff/theocracy/militia cues.

Then you have developers like DICE who suck at it.

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#20 Eoten
Member since 2020 • 263 Posts

@Stevo_the_gamer said:

Some games do an excellent job of political themes and satire. Grand Theft Auto 5 is a perfect example with some of their back story, radio shows, and storylines. Another great example was Far Cry 5 with all the prepper stuff/theocracy/militia cues.

Then you have developers like DICE who suck at it.

GTA parodying the FBI by calling them the FIB is more funny now looking back on it.

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#21  Edited By Maroxad
Member since 2007 • 15516 Posts

@leftrightdivide said:
@Maroxad said:

Mass Effect to be too political.

Cora insisting that she was an Asari Commando got on my nerves.

It explains the bad writing. They decided to diversify the writers and hired a gender studies major who decided, why can't a human identify as an Asari? Apparently Cora was assigned the wrong species at birth.

I didn't play Mass Effect Andromeda but I looked it up.

What I saw had nothing to do with anything you said. If anything what I did read implied that she was an asari commando, as in: a commando working for the Asari (alongside other Asari Commandos). With a strong obsession with Asaris.

Not saying she was a good character, since her obsession got quite annoying and made her quite one dimensional. A poor man's Raiden (MGS2).

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#22  Edited By KungfuKitten
Member since 2006 • 27110 Posts

I feel like virtue signalling and bullying are more of a problem to me. If a game goes out of its way to make you look stupid for thinking a certain way without even challenging it... well that's not great. Being overly preachy is another one I guess.

I don't believe in representation unless it's trying to be historically accurate like a realistically styled simulation game focused on representing certain aspects. Even then the 'representation' is only to a certain extend that the designers thought of. Games typically don't (attempt to) accurately represent reality and its characters typically don't represent you or anyone real (and if they do, then only to a very limited extend). Or any groups of people. I just think it's dishonest to pretend otherwise.

So in terms of 'identity politics' I believe it's typically used like a sales pitch (BFV) and not to make the game better. You write a good world, you write a good story. If it makes sense in that world that everyone is white, then make everyone white and stop listening to the shriekers on Twitter/Era. You're not racist for creating a credible or coherent world in your video game. For me as someone who is not a racist, the idea of calling a developer racist for not offering 'representation' is just nonsensical.

Those ways of dealing with politics can just get lost.