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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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
Avalongod@Papa, agreed. I think people are reluctant to get involved if they're not the target. But I think we need to take responsibility as a community to confront harassing behavior, whether on gender or race.08/29/2014 - 7:23am
E. Zachary KnightSo Nintendo has given gamers what they want and have fractured the 3DS user base at the same time. http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/224476/Nintendo_reveals_the_New_Nintendo_3DS.php08/29/2014 - 7:12am
Papa MidnightI could say the same about race. I certainly enjoyed being on the receiving end of this while playing StarCraft II this past week: http://i.imgur.com/mIZA1QB.png (and this is actually mild compared to what I usually see). Report players? What a joke...08/29/2014 - 12:29am
AvalongodWhether you approve of Sarkeesian's view or not, no woman deserves to be the target of that kind of harassment and it won't stop until men tell each other it's not appropriate under any circumstance.08/28/2014 - 8:44pm
AvalongodI'm guessing the twitter account was a troll, but come on, I'm sorry, it's just disgusting someone is saying those things to Sarkeesian whether serious or a joke.08/28/2014 - 8:43pm
ZippyDSMleesocial movement that is bringing most of these issue to the spot light to be nothing but trend mongering white knighting bullies who are not much better than the hateful moronic bullies on the other side.08/28/2014 - 5:20pm
ZippyDSMleereflects the world we live in while the rest is the worst stuff that should be focused on. Leaving whats reflected in the same boat as everything else that's exaggerated and skewed by media/fiction and happliy consumed by current society. I find the socia08/28/2014 - 5:20pm
ZippyDSMleemales live off the power fantasy but once you realize as a male you will never reach what fiction or media calls perfect it demoralizes you just the same. And I would not call female negative stereotypes rampant and out of control not when 70-80% of it re08/28/2014 - 5:19pm
ZippyDSMleeNot saying that there is not a difference in the treatment of males and females in media, but males are begin painted as near perfect superhumans with cliched flaws it dose as much damage to the psyche as how females are treated. Sure you could claim that08/28/2014 - 5:19pm
ZippyDSMleeNeeneko:As I said if you do not 100% belive it then you are a Neanderthal. Theres more gray to everything than black and white.08/28/2014 - 1:27pm
NeenekoMeh, the "PCism" is just trotted out when people do not know their place and dare to complain about things the speakers think are fine. How dare people complain about how they are treated/portrayed, it is not like it bother us, our feelings matter!08/28/2014 - 1:13pm
ZippyDSMleeNeeneko I do not think its against feminism but rather against PCisim’s and that most things are offensive since if you do not believe that you are a Neanderthal that beats women,ect..08/28/2014 - 12:48pm
Neenekocomplete with the standard 'she is a lying and attacking the game industry! threats are wrong but she did it to herself' comments.08/28/2014 - 11:28am
Neenekosad, but not surprising. the backlash against feminism has been growing the last few years.08/28/2014 - 11:25am
 

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