Why Don’t Politicians Leverage Games More?

July 1, 2010 -

An article on The Game Reviews.com notes that while videogames have emerged into a “significant cultural force,” only a handful of games have been made in order to communicate political ideas.

Author Andy Johnson outlines a few games that attempted such incorporation, like America’s Army, Full Spectrum Warrior and religious games like Left Behind: Eternal Forces and The Bible Game, before describing a few games that feature a pure political bent, like the Bushgame and September 12th.

While politicians have been quick to latch on to social media tools to spread their message, Johnson says that it would be difficult for elected officials to latch on to videogames because their interactive nature breeds “unpredictability.” He continued:

Party-political communication and PR is a veritable minefield, and adding a new dimension to the process - especially one as complex and interactive as gaming - probably presents too many risks and uncertainties to politicians for us to be able to expect any party-political games for the foreseeable future.

The author thinks that games could help with one particular area of politics—policy-making:

It is conceivable that a game could be designed which could help a political party better understand the policy orientations of voters, allowing them to more accurately target their campaigns and manifestos. Such a game could act as a kind of high-concept playable survey, teasing out the policy preferences of its players and communicating them via the internet to the politicians.

As the videogame generation continues to age, Johnson believes that the “interactivity, dynamism and verve” of videogames will ensure that the genre begins to have more of an impact on political issues.

Comments

Re: Why Don’t Politicians Leverage Games More?

"After having played Deus Ex, I have revised all of our policies to the extent of directing all of our resources into nano-augmentation technology, because goddamn do I want to become a god and rule the world!"

Seriously, it's a fair point. Several games at least feature politics (Look at Shepherd's dealings with the Council, human Alliance and the alien races in the original Mass Effect) but I know of few that directly focus on modern political issues. I always thought the main campaign of Modern Warfare 2 was, in parts, a tongue-in-cheek parody of American military policy and how conflict can continually expand to all-out war, but that's hardly politics in the context Johnson is looking at.

As for religion in games, never. I think it was Eurogamer that asked several key designers about this and one (Molyneux I think) said that you will almost never see a mainstream, major developer heavily take on religion in a game because it is just too damn risky for a publisher to fund it due to the potential backlash. Like politics, plenty of games have featured religion, but very few games have completely revolved around it or looked at the subsequent issues.

Even then, games are often escapism and regular political discourse is likely something that gamers really don't want to see anyway.

Re: Why Don’t Politicians Leverage Games More?

"As for religion in games, never."

Assassin's Creed (the original - the sequel not so much) is arguably all about religion vs. atheism.

But don't tell that to the Christian Right. We seem to have gotten away with it so far, LOL.

Re: Why Don’t Politicians Leverage Games More?

I'd definitely put it down as 'arguably' - as I progressed through AC1, I thought the game was coming to Altair concluding that religion was fuelling all of the war in the Middle East and that it wasn't true, but it doesn't quite come to that. It helps that religion isn't so much of the focus and instead it's more what humans are doing with it - namely using it as an excuse to wage war and commit atrocities.

I'd say that it's less atheism and more rationality, objectivity and reason, summarised well by Altair's quote of "Nothing is true, everything is permitted." After the events of AC1, people begin to flock to Altair's order because they realise they can live like that, they don't need to zealously follow the other religious doctrines.

This could be a lengthy article in itself, so I'll leave it at that. :]

Re: Why Don’t Politicians Leverage Games More?

Most also don't want to lose the scared stupid parent vote.

Re: Why Don’t Politicians Leverage Games More?

I think they (politics religion army etc etc take your pick) should keep their filthy hands off games frankly I wish they would get their hands off everything other than what their job is supposed to be.

 
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E. Zachary KnightZippy, So you can't find even one?08/29/2014 - 1:04pm
ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen:Right because shes prefect and never exaggerates... *rolls eyes*08/29/2014 - 12:53pm
SleakerAnd honestly, nearly all of the games she references, or images she depicts I've always cringed at and wondered why they were included in games to begin with, from pinups through explicit sexual depictions or direct abuse. I think it's cheap storytelling.08/29/2014 - 12:35pm
Sleaker@AE - aren't most people fundamentally misunderstanding her at this point? haha.. On a related note I think a lot of the backlash is coming from males that think she is telling them their 'Generic Male Fantasy' is bad and wrong.08/29/2014 - 12:33pm
Andrew EisenAnd no, I don't think the female community would be upset over the performance of a case study in and of itself. Possibly the mostivations behind such a study, the methodology or conclusions but not the mere idea of a case study.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
Andrew EisenAmusingly, these videos aren't saying you can't/shouldn't use tropes or that sexual representations are inherently problematic so those are very silly things to have a problem with and indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of the series.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
SleakerDo you think the female community would get extremely angry over a male doing a case study on the negative impact of sex-novels and their unrealistic depiction of males and how widespread they are in american culture?08/29/2014 - 12:25pm
SleakerThe other thing that people might find problematic is that they see no problem with sexual representations of females (or males) in games. And realistically, why is there anything wrong with sexual representations in fiction?08/29/2014 - 12:24pm
SleakerTo even discuss or bring up these issues at a cultural level to begin with. Going straight for games to many probably feels like a huge overstepping given that it's interactive story in many cases, and when you're telling a story why can't you use tropes.08/29/2014 - 12:21pm
SleakerI think a large part of the controversy stems from the idea that games aren't culture setters, but culture reactors, and simply depict what is already in culture. So people don't care that games use tropes or are blind to them because we've failed ...08/29/2014 - 12:20pm
AvalongodBesides, what better way to make her point for her than to respond to her opinion by behaving like a misogynistic asshole. Sure, it may be a troll account, but that doesn't make it "ok"08/29/2014 - 12:19pm
AvalongodWhether Sarkeesian is "right" or "wrong" is not relevant, neither she nor any other woman should have to expect that her opinion will be met with death threats or even just sexist language.08/29/2014 - 12:18pm
Andrew EisenOh, may as well. Zip, I challenge you to cite three specific examples from the TvW videos (use direct quotes and time stamps) and explain how/why they ring hollow or are over exaggerated.08/29/2014 - 11:56am
Andrew EisenZip - Bullies on both sides? What both sides? And of course bullies are worse than people who aren't bullies.08/29/2014 - 11:23am
Neeneko(2) yes, male tropes also have problems and gender studies looks at those too. But this highlights a privilage problem, the idea that if male issues are not brought up too female issues should not be discussed.08/29/2014 - 10:42am
Neeneko@ZippyDSMlee - jumping back (1) one can acknowledge systemic problems without requiring every male be a Neanderthal.08/29/2014 - 10:42am
MaskedPixelanteI don't like the new 3DS, mostly because it means there's a good chance future 3DS games won't be compatible with the current models.08/29/2014 - 9:30am
ConsterI don't get why Amazon decided to buy this "Twitch" fellow, really. It took him ages to beat Pokemon.08/29/2014 - 8:31am
ZippyDSMleeIt goes without saying that we need to et rid of the bullies on both sides that are far worse than Sarkeesian or Quin will ever be.08/29/2014 - 8:24am
ZippyDSMleeI'm talking more about the genreal movement and how silly it is, as for Sarkeesian half of what she is says rings hollw while the other half tend to be over exsagerated.08/29/2014 - 8:22am
 

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