Yes Virginia, Videogames are Political

Responding to a recent Bitmob piece which asked whether games can deliver a political message, a blogger has penned a resounding answer.

Yes, Video Games Are Political, written by Lee Bradley, begins by noting that independent games such as Cutthroat Capitalism, Kabul Kaboom! and Super Columbine Massacre RPG! all delivered hearty political statements, regardless of their reach or palatability.

Bradley then meanders through history, using Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Gordon Gekko in an attempt to illustrate that videogames of the 80’s reflected current politics, much as games today do.

Videogames, as cultural artifacts, are unescapably political. Even the most vacuous of games, despite their ostensible mindlessness, cannot fail to reflect the politics of the culture in which they were produced.

If the 80’s equaled “greed and me,” and resulted in a slew of games featuring lone heroes, then, Bradley argues, today’s political “notions of society and community are once again on the agenda” and are reflected in current titles like Left 4 Dead:

Even in games where the co-operative element of co-op is less pronounced, the ideology is the same; you are not on your own anymore, you are part of a team. What’s more that team is more than likely multi-cultural and/or multi-gender.

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  1. 0
    Bennett Beeny says:

    Yet another article on this subject that gets it half right.  He’s right in saying that games are political, but he’s wrong in saying that games can’t be subversive.  Heck, if games followed what was politically en-vogue we’d be seeing fewer shooters right now.  I haven’t noticed any developers dropping shooters in favour of pro-environmental games.  And let’s not forget that Mass Effect, with some pretty politically subversive messages, including homosexuality, came out during George W. Bush’s administration.

    In short, yet another BS article that’s trying to sell a very flawed premise.

  2. 0
    Father Time says:

    I think he’s looking too much into it, games where you get to be the lone hero are by no means abandoned. I think they only had lone hero in the 80s because that’s all technology allowed for, or they figured that would be the most fun. Now we can have good AI, and lone hero games have been done so much that people might get tired of them.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  3. 0
    Icehawk says:

    So the 80s was the "age of greed" hense single player games?  Um Fallout 3, Oblivion, hell even the hated GTA 4 are all single player based games and fairly new.   That and I am So glad that said greed is behind us (sarcasm).   

    That and modern games "is more than likely multi-cultural and/or multi-gender."  Is simply a vain attempt to keep the minorites from bitching and whining.   And as pointed out the tech as improved considerably over 20 odd years. 

    Mind you I agree there are elements of politics in games, as well as books, movies, music etc.  since all these works of art are created by people who live in a world that will not let them escape said politics, but to point to that for it own sake leaves me asking the question. 

    Yes?  So?

  4. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    Except arcades whith 2-4 player co-op, and home consoles which had 2 player as standard practically from the get-go. Bubble Bobble was co-op, for example.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  5. 0
    Lagwolf says:

     Um, not to be a pedant, but in the 80s most games were not capable of being playing co-op as most people weren’t on the internet or even on a LAN. Hot-seat gaming is not co-op. I think the lone-hero of the 80s vs the modern L4D co-op comparison is specious at best. 

  6. 0
    Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    I think the problem is still people is still convinced that games are for children. There´s also a number of people who think videogames are not the way to represent real life issues like the war on Irak and feel very offended because "warz iz not a gamez, bawwwww" retarded retoric.

    That´s why producers have to use alien invasions when they want to take war themes on games. Fiction can be a good way to criticize the society, but I agree that´s not very fair if others media can use those themes more freely than games.

    They will look up and shout "Give ROFLCOPTERS to us"… and I´ll whisper "NO". The cynical side of videogames (spanish only): My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship):

  7. 0
    DarkSaber says:

    *Yawn* Yeah yeah we all said as much in the comments of GPs last article about this.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

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