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Should video games be political?


Should video games be political?  

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In this BBC Newsbeat article, Dan Hay of Far Cry fame has said that "it's time for games to follow TV and film - and get political."



"I grew up in the 1980s during the cold war," he tells Newsbeat.


"At the time you don't know what it means but there's this feeling that anything could kick off at any time. And for years there was this weight on my chest of not understanding what it was and not having any way to control it.

Then about 10 or 15 years ago I started to have that feeling again. I remember going through the financial crisis in 2007 and hearing people ask where the government was.

And even looking globally and looking at Brexit and feeling like the language of the world had changed from one of a global community to being us and them."


He says this was the inspiration for Far Cry 5's bleak storyline.


"I thought what if we simply gave that feeling to one person again? What if they believed that the end of times was actually going to come?"


After recent discussions on-and-off the forum about The Last Night and its political theme and whether it's possible to separate art from the artist, I now ask you:


Do you think games should be political? Would you play a game that's heavily political, or would that put you off? Would you only play the game if it depicted a political stance in line with your own? Do politics have a place at all in the world of video games? What games do you know that are political and that you would recommend? So many questions! 



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I think if there's room for politics in a game and it's handled effectively, then sure, but saying "videogames should be political" sounds a bit too close to "all videogames should be political". No-one wants a subplot in Super Mario Bros about how much taxpayers are giving to the Mushroom Kingdom monarchy, or how much child benefit Bowser is claiming for the Koopalings.

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I wouldn't mind a game that is political, but a political game would probably involve moral choices so please keep the idea away from Bethesda. It would be interesting to play games with different political narratives, as it could lead to insight. But if there were a reason to not want (real) political games it would be that it would become the next big hype, so before we know it we get Assassins Creed: the assassination of Sigmund Freud.



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I suppose given the context he's arguing that games should address present-day, specific political issues rather than general or past ones. That doesn't happen as often as it maybe should, but that's kind of a product of lead times. A strong political theme at your E3 announcement might be weirdly irrelevant come launch day. 


(Although I suspect this one won't be.)


There have been overtly political games for ages though, either by design or as a side effect of depicting present day warfare.

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Surely the only truly apolitical games are ones that remain resolutely abstract in their visuals, sound and gameplay?


In any case I recommend a Mario 3 romhack called Communist Mario 3 as I greatly enjoyed giving all those muscle memories a hard time whilst also reframing the central conceit of the Super Mario games as capitalist propaganda. I thought it was pretty funny, clever and superbly excecuted.


From the readme:


Gameplay Changes:


> Don’t get coins! Any kind of coin will hurt or kill you! You can still gather coins while invincible, and any coin gathering you do will still cause your coin counter to increase.

 > Mostly unchanged levels! Aside from functional and aesthetic changes, levels have been left as unchanged as possible. Yep, this is a feature.

 > One-ups have been removed! Any one-up that was in the game has been changed to a mushroom power-up. You will not gain a one-up for collecting coins.

 > Lives counter has been changed to a death counter! If you max the counter cap at 999, you are not a very good communist.

 > Level-end goal cards and slot-machine matching games have been removed. Since there’s no longer any point to having lives, they don’t serve a purpose.

 > Storyline has been changed, so the text also needed to match. All old princess letters were changed to quotes from Vladimir Lenin and all the chairmen (formerly kings) messages have been changed.

 > Bowser is no longer the antagonist. That has been changed to Uncle Sam and the United States.




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21 minutes ago, VN1X said:



This whole Wolfenstein 2 = white genocide thing is fascinating to me. Is it an exercise in trolling or are there genuinely people in America (I feel like I'm on fairly safe ground with the assumption that most of this nonsense comes from America) who personally identify with comic book nazis!? 

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1 hour ago, womblingfree said:


Although the history of Tetris is the one of the most political stories of communism meets capitalism in history. At one point the guy that made it thought he was going to be murdered by the KGB.





That occured to me the second I posted.


Point still stands though. I don't want to have politics in games like Tetris, Mario, FIFA, etc. Yet more than happy to see other game types really go for a deep dive into the subject. 



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