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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james_fudgeIt's clearly part of a broader internal fight against people like Sargon.07/31/2015 - 12:21pm
james_fudgeBig perm: fair point. On the other hand that's its origins and not saying that in some way would be a disservice to our readers07/31/2015 - 12:21pm
Andrew EisenMatt - What is the argument that Sargon supposedly debunked?07/31/2015 - 12:06pm
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Big PermNot really a fan of "one individual aligned with Gamer Gate attempted to shame a prominent figure within its own ranks". It should be encouraged that we call out hipocracy, and instead I feel that shines a negative light on such a thing.07/31/2015 - 11:21am
james_fudgeI'm curious what our GG-aligned readers think of our Necromancer story? Was it fair? Unfair?07/31/2015 - 11:11am
E. Zachary KnightMatt, That the whole stink over the articles is a bunch of BS? Because that is the only part that is BS.07/31/2015 - 8:29am
MattsworknameOh btw, info, are you still refering to that "gamers are dead" argument? Cause sargon of akkad just did a 3 video series that proves it's based on bullshit07/31/2015 - 6:46am
MattsworknameInfo: thats what you call clickbaiting to the highest level07/31/2015 - 5:43am
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Craig R.1st I heard of Pixels was seeing trailer in theater. Was interested until Sandler appeared, then it became an instant 'Nope'.07/30/2015 - 4:52pm
james_fudgesick burns are not always allowed in the shoutbox.07/30/2015 - 4:28pm
MechaCrashIt's especially funny because I said "you'd have to be a moron to enjoy it," and Goth boasted about enjoying it, as if that does anything to change my opinion of the movie or of him.07/30/2015 - 4:19pm
TechnogeekMatthew: Back when that law was first implemented, I kept trying to come up with a scenario where it would be anything other than an unmitigatedd sisaster. Nothing ever came to mind.07/30/2015 - 4:16pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/07/new-study-shows-spains-google-tax-has-been-a-disaster-for-publishers/ no duh Sherlock!07/30/2015 - 4:10pm
TechnogeekI can't even make a joke about that. It's like poking fun at Donald Trump's hair.07/30/2015 - 4:01pm
 

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