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How Video Games Reflect Ideology

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the my-level-80-priest-provides-universal-health-care dept.

Games 244

A recent article at Bitmob sought to tackle the question of whether games could carry political meaning, arguing the negative since "The money, the media representation, and the general shadow of 'triviality' will always trail the word 'game,' because that is what makes it open to all markets." An opposing viewpoint has been posted by Lee Bradley, who says, "Perhaps the most profound shift in the games industry in the last few years has been the explosion of co-op. Not only are developers dedicating more and more time to providing co-op experiences in their games, they are also finding new ways of exploring the dynamic within it. ... 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. ... Now, this isn't to say that the lone white-guy hero has been eradicated. Far from it; the bald, white space-marine is one of the most over-used characters in modern gaming. But it increasingly rare that they are lone heroes. A shift towards team-based, co-op featured games is undeniable. In this way, mainstream video games, even those seemingly void of political statement, are implicitly political. While for the most part they are not designed to tackle political issues head-on, or carry overt political messages, they do reflect the values and the popular ideology of the culture in which they were created."

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Games are entertainment (4, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#29668043)

We play games to take a break from reality, and not to think about the same shit as everywhere else.

Re:Games are entertainment (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 5 years ago | (#29668089)

And yet, games create their own microcosm. It is just normal that commercial behaviors start to get in, along with advertising and of course politics. The more popular the game, the more likely they'll get influenced by the real world, even though they keep their originality.

Re:Games are entertainment (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29668369)

I guess this is why I prefer abstract games which have little connection to anything - like Pacman or Missile Command or Metroid or Final Fantasy 10 or Ratchet & Clank. The less connection to the real world, the more I like it.

Missile Command (4, Informative)

westlake (615356) | about 5 years ago | (#29668877)

I guess this is why I prefer abstract games which have little connection to anything - like Pacman or Missile Command or Metroid

In 1993 Microsoft published Arcade and Return of Arcade - Atari arcade hits adapted for Windows 3.1.

The entire collection filled all of four floppy disks. Brief essays sketched the history of the each game, with comments from the developers. Missile Command had a visceral impact that few games have ever matched:

The escape from reality could have frightful consequences. The horrifying subject matter of Missile Command had an affect on the developers.

Dave Theuner: "It was pretty scary. During the project and for six months after the project, I'd wake up in a cold sweat because I's have these dreams where I'd see the missile streak coming in and I'd see the impact. I'd be up on top of a mountain and I'd see the missiles coming in, and I'd know it would be about 30 seconds until the blast hit and fried me to a crisp."

Steve Calfee: "Everyone I knew who got really into the game had nightmares about nuclear war."

"We had this big thing about the name of the game. From the beginning it was called Armageddon. The management, themselves, didn't know what the word meant and they thought none of the kids would. Engineering loved the name Armageddon and we always wanted to call it that. From the very top came the message
Ed Rotberg said "The thing about Missile Command is that the world was not nearly as stable politically as it is now. There is a little bit of a spooky message in that whole game when you have that final cloud at the end."

Count to ten before you click on "Submit" (1)

westlake (615356) | about 5 years ago | (#29668917)

Engineering loved the name Armageddon and we always wanted to call it that. From the very top came the message, "We can't use that name, nobody'll know what it means and nobody can spell it."

Re:Games are entertainment (1)

Eraesr (1629799) | about 5 years ago | (#29668137)

While that's true, gaming becomes a much more profound part of our every day lives. Games start integrating with "real world" systems and ideas. More and more games are becoming social platforms. Where in the past you'd have your dedicated fan forum for a specific game, these days developers create social platforms out of the games themselves. The most simple example of this is XBox Live's achievement and gamerpoints system. A game like World of Warcraft wouldn't me nearly as successful if it weren't for the social aspects of it. I think that in the coming years, games that form a solid social platform will be the most succesful. This begins with the simple option of multiplayer gaming, the next step being coop (just look at the popularity of Gears of War's Horde mode and the number of Horde clones being released right now, such as Halo ODST's firefight mode). But it can expand much, much further than that.

Next to that we have games that integrate into our every day lives. An example is Wii Fit. While it's not entirely there yet, one could see Wii Fit (or similar software) as an integral part of someone's workout and exercise plan. I'm not sure if games can have a big political or ethical impact in the sense of the original article, but it's not uncommon anymore for games to become real world applications that integrate into our lives rather than simple entertainment.

Re:Games are entertainment (1)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#29668157)

More and more games are becoming social platforms.

They're not games anymore: they're social platforms. I use WoW more for chatting than gameplay.

Re:Games are entertainment (1)

Canazza (1428553) | about 5 years ago | (#29668267)

The moment I realised that WoW was just Facebook for me I pulled out of it. I realised it wasn't fun anymore, it was just for friends and waiting for new content. When that new content was the lacklustre haphazard Crusaders Colluseum that cemented my desire to leave. All the friends I wanted to talk to in game I have on MSN anyway, so I jumped ship, no point paying a subscription to do that.

Re:Games are entertainment (1)

nomadic (141991) | about 5 years ago | (#29668981)

I realised it wasn't fun anymore, it was just for friends

Yes, nothing fun about socializing with friends.

Re:Games are entertainment (3, Funny)

Wowsers (1151731) | about 5 years ago | (#29668147)

A break from reality? Rubbish, Wolfenstein clearly has subliminal messages, just ask the Germans and how they censor the game.

Re:Games are entertainment (2, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 5 years ago | (#29668199)

Subliminal? I could understand if there were occasional references to a death camp, or the occasional shout of "Schutzstaffel!" in the distance, but every single surface (in the first 4 levels i've played since buying it yesterday) have some reference to the Nazi party somewhere; A Swastika, a Reichsadler (Empire Eagle), a poster of Hitler...

That's not subliminal, that's "WE WON, BITCH. NAZIS ARE YOUR ENEMY!"

Re:Games are entertainment (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 5 years ago | (#29668413)

No no no, the subliminal message is "All German shepherds must be stabbed".
Just like "Elite"'s (aka "Pigs in space:Fuck the Law") message of drug smuggling and gun running-profitability and "GoldenEye"'s "russian hackers are not invincible", looking for hidden messages,
reading between the lines and such will often just lead you back to the eye of the beholder.

Re:Games are entertainment (4, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | about 5 years ago | (#29668495)

I suppose that's Superliminal.

L. T. Smash: It's a three-pronged attack. Sub-liminal, liminal and super-liminal.

Lisa: Superliminal?

L. T. Smash: I'll show you. (Leans out of window) Hey, you! Join the Navy!

Carl: Uh, yeah, all right.

Lenny: I'm in.

Re:Games are entertainment (1)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#29668241)

clearly has subliminal messages

You're doing it wrong.

Re:Games are entertainment (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 5 years ago | (#29668481)

because he's missing the liminal and superliminal messages?

Re:Games are entertainment (1)

kalirion (728907) | about 5 years ago | (#29669423)

Replace "play games" with "read comics" and "watch movies." Those are all entertainment too, right? And when was the last time you saw one with a message....

Racism (4, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#29668059)

Far from it; the bald, white space-marine is one of the most over-used characters in modern gaming. But it increasingly rare that they are lone heroes. A shift towards team-based, co-op featured games is undeniable. In this way, mainstream video games, even those seemingly void of political statement, are implicitly political.

No, they're not "political". You can interpret Mozart's Fifth to be racist, but that doesn't mean he wrote it that way. If you keep looking for racism everywhere, you are racist: everyone else doesn't think about it all the time.

Re:Racism (1)

dario_moreno (263767) | about 5 years ago | (#29668115)

and what about Beethoven ?

Re:Racism (2, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 5 years ago | (#29668171)

Too much drool to take him seriously. Plus, he shed on the sofa.

Re:Racism (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | about 5 years ago | (#29668895)

Mozart can be interpreted as racist but Beethoven actually is

Re:Racism (-1, Offtopic)

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Re:Racism (1)

clemdoc (624639) | about 5 years ago | (#29668149)

You can interpret Mozart's Fifth to be racist

Mozart's Fifth? Opera? Symphoy? Did you mean the magic flute? Please elaborate.

Re:Racism (1)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#29668169)

You can interpret $RANDOMUNRELATEDEXAMPLE to be racist

Re:Racism (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | about 5 years ago | (#29668677)

You can interpret Mozart's Fifth to be racist

Mozart's Fifth? Opera? Symphoy? Did you mean the magic flute? Please elaborate.

The Magic Flute [wikipedia.org] is obviously an attack on the sacred institution of marriage, deviously engineered by The Homosexual Lobby.

Re:Racism (1)

clemdoc (624639) | about 5 years ago | (#29668695)

Just you wait until PETA finds out about the bird catching.

Re:Racism (2, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | about 5 years ago | (#29669041)

The Magic Flute [wikipedia.org] is obviously an attack on the sacred institution of marriage, deviously engineered by The Homosexual Lobby.

Actually The Magic Flute was a deeply symbolic work based on freemason philosophy, and could be intepreted on an attack on the religious institutions of the age.

Re:Racism (3, Informative)

prichardson (603676) | about 5 years ago | (#29668175)

Pot. Kettle. Black.

I didn't read that passage as being racist at all. The author was clearly talking about increasing diversity in games and how the standard space-marine character pushes against that. Do not confuse the lack of diversity with racism. They are very different things.

Incidentally, how exactly can you interpret Mozart's 5th symphony to be racist? Is there something abut B flat I don't know? Do you object to the thin orchestration?

Re:Racism (2, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#29668337)

The author was clearly talking about increasing diversity in games and how the standard space-marine character pushes against that

Why do we need diversity anyway? Does it matter if you're playing a white space marine who shoots aliens or a black space marine who shoots aliens? Next up: chess is racist, because while you can play either white or black, there is no Native American side.

Re:Racism (1)

darthvader100 (1482651) | about 5 years ago | (#29668385)

Mod parent up I so agree with this. You can find racism, sexism, agism(how many old people games are there(before UP)) extreemism, bioengineeringism, heathanism etc

Re:Racism (3, Insightful)

cvd6262 (180823) | about 5 years ago | (#29668779)

The author was clearly talking about increasing diversity in games and how the standard space-marine character pushes against that

Why do we need diversity anyway? Does it matter if you're playing a white space marine who shoots aliens or a black space marine who shoots aliens? Next up: chess is racist, because while you can play either white or black, there is no Native American side.

Which color goes first in chess? I'm just sayin'.

Re:Racism (1)

adavies42 (746183) | about 5 years ago | (#29668885)

Next up: chess is racist, because while you can play either white or black, there is no Native American side.

The Red Queen [wikipedia.org] begs to differ.

Re:Racism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29668931)

You're just being stupid.

Re:Racism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29669003)

Why do we need diversity anyway? Does it matter if you're playing a white space marine who shoots aliens or a black space marine who shoots aliens? Next up: chess is racist, because while you can play either white or black, there is no Native American side.

Of course chess wouldn't be concerned with race as it's merely a vague abstraction of warfare with no humans. Modern video games on the other hand have lifelike graphics, compelling narratives and immersion into new and strange realities. And in these cases, diversity can be wonderful. I don't understand the venomous attitude that a lot of gamers have with consciously including more minority characters in games. Maybe it doesn't matter to you, but as a member of a visible minority, it's nice to see increased diversity in games. We don't *need* diversity as you so claim, but it does benefit the setting when done well.

Re:Racism (4, Insightful)

FrostDust (1009075) | about 5 years ago | (#29669049)

Why do we need diversity anyway? Does it matter if you're playing a white space marine who shoots aliens or a black space marine who shoots aliens?

It doesn't matter to the mechanics or plot of the game, but it matters to the potential audience. If you believe the character is similar to you, its easier to imagine yourself in that role.

One of the smartest things they did with Halo was defining your character as simply a space Marine; he could be of any age, race, religious belief, and so on, that the player wanted.

Re:Racism (1)

A Pancake (1147663) | about 5 years ago | (#29669117)

You just don't know your chess history. The last red chess piece disappeared back when both sides were white and just wore red or blue coats.

I've heard the Canadians still have some of the original pieces but they hide them in a ratty little box way at the back of the top shelf of the closet.

Re:Racism (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29669189)

Your talking like it's a abstract game (which chess is). While the story of many a computer game may be so flimsy that the game almost counts as abstract, those things you shoot often are supposed to be people. When you include people and a story then you're reflecting reality. How you reflect reality depends on how you want your audience to feel. If your audience couldn't give a rat's ass about the characters in the game then your assertion that it doesn't matter what they look like holds. On the other hand, if you want black people to feel involved in the game, you may think that giving them the chance to play the game as a black character will achieve this. You may be wrong.

It's basically the same thing as movies. Usually there's a white male lead with a black male supporting character. This is because, while the majority of the audience is white, black people still account for a significant proportion of the film's income. Is this a political statement? Hell no. Does it "reflect an ideology"? Of course not. It just reflects what the audience wants. It isn't political correctness gone mad. It isn't part of a deliberate effort to make America more integrated. It's just business.

When games have characters whose depth goes beyond their hair style, skin colour becomes much less important. It's because the bald space marine is such a tedious cliché that people start thinking about his race.

Re:Racism (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | about 5 years ago | (#29668343)

Is there something abut B flat I don't know?

Bb == A#

Is calling someone "a sharp" racist ? Perhaps we'll never know.

Re:Racism (2, Interesting)

noundi (1044080) | about 5 years ago | (#29668425)

Incidentally, how exactly can you interpret Mozart's 5th symphony to be racist? Is there something abut B flat I don't know? Do you object to the thin orchestration?

The day a famous racist become synonymous with the song. It's proposterous, I know, if you don't believe me look at Hitler's moustache and tell me that this association isn't even more proposterous. A song at least has the potential of being political, but facial hair? The point is we humans are silly beings whom associate irrelevant traits to our fears so that we hopefully can avoid them no matter the cost, in this case racism, on both sides. The racists fear the tone of skin, or the genes of other ethnicities (usually they don't even know what a genome is, and if they do they still don't know the implications of it, because nobody yet understands our complex bodies) and then we have those who fear the racists. These are the same people that associate songs or facial hair with racism, avoid it at all cost. It's truly remarkable how people are unaware of these very basic traits, or rather flaws, of ours. Then again we humans have always been self centred and self righteous idiots, no matter what side we're on -- simply because we're always on one.

Re:Racism (1)

harks (534599) | about 5 years ago | (#29668329)

Looking for racism everywhere doesn't mean you are racist. It means you are racistist.

Re:Racism (2, Insightful)

cr_nucleus (518205) | about 5 years ago | (#29668339)

Far from it; the bald, white space-marine is one of the most over-used characters in modern gaming. But it increasingly rare that they are lone heroes. A shift towards team-based, co-op featured games is undeniable. In this way, mainstream video games, even those seemingly void of political statement, are implicitly political.

No, they're not "political". You can interpret Mozart's Fifth to be racist, but that doesn't mean he wrote it that way. If you keep looking for racism everywhere, you are racist: everyone else doesn't think about it all the time.

I believe you're the mistaken one. As adequately put by Virginie Despentes [wikipedia.org] in her book King Kong Theorie [wikipedia.org] , some ideas are so ingrained in our own culture that we end up failing to even see them in action. The most interesting part is that you accept those ideas even if they are detrimental to yourself just because "it's the way things go".

You can also think about The Matrix, ie. when you're part of a system you easily become blind to its limitations and can even come to defend them (becoming an agent).

To get back to your point, what i mean is it would be ok to acknowledge an portrayed idea, or some kind of interpretation of a piece, but not adhere to it. On the contrary, dismissing the idea as non existent or something like that does not reflect a better or more elaborate point of view.

More simply put, not seeing is bad, seeing but not caring is somewhat better.

Re:Racism (4, Informative)

cvd6262 (180823) | about 5 years ago | (#29668757)

There is an area of academic pursuit that is actively trying to shift the meaning of "racism" and racist to encompass any white (written with a lowercase "w") member of society. Understanding White Privilege by Fances Kendall is a good read on the matter. Basically, our society is racist because members of different races exercise varying degrees of privilege. Because members of privileged groups cannot divorce themselves of the privileges that they receive from our racist society, all members of the privileged race are racists. Conversely, no Black (written with an uppercase "B") can be racist.

Such reasoning is extended to declare any member of the privileged sex "sexist," the privileged sexual orientation "homophobic," etc. This "privilege theory" was the basis for the now-retracted freshmen curriculum at the University of Delaware. [thefire.org]

Lest I be flamed for this, let me be clear that I completely reject these notions. But they are central to many people's understanding of "racist." I've found that one's definition of the term to be central to many disagreements.

Re:Racism (3, Interesting)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 5 years ago | (#29668889)

I was exposed to this exact usage of racism in both a LGBT studies class and a socialism of race/gender class in college. In both cases, the professors seemed surprised anyone might consider this definition of racism to be very questionable.

Re:Racism (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | about 5 years ago | (#29668959)

As I was reading your comment, I noticed it was in small black letters against a big white background. Big black background too intimidating for ya, cracker??

If you want to talk about idolology (1)

Higaran (835598) | about 5 years ago | (#29668087)

One of the best games I've ever played is Bioshock, it goes very deeply into polotics, religion, and idolology. You could fine something of that in every game of the last few years. Games are immitating life, and soon life will probably be immitating games, so it it getting better.

Re:If you want to talk about idolology (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 5 years ago | (#29668143)

Bioshock, it goes very deeply into polotics, religion, and idolology.

It studies statues of gods?

I think you meant idleology, the study of crap stories on slashdot.

Re:If you want to talk about idolology (3, Funny)

Higaran (835598) | about 5 years ago | (#29668205)

Dude, its 6 am, and i've been up for 24 hours, i don't think i should have posted that, and your right. just cut me some slack.

Re:If you want to talk about idolology (1)

arethuza (737069) | about 5 years ago | (#29668285)

That would make an interesting checkbox on the submit form.

Re:If you want to talk about idolology (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | about 5 years ago | (#29668703)

That would make an interesting checkbox on the submit form.

And about as useful as a checkbox that says "Check here if you are illiterate".

Re:If you want to talk about idolology (1)

arethuza (737069) | about 5 years ago | (#29668815)

Indeed, clearly a "Check here if you are illiterate" checkbox would be on the user preferences page. :-)

Re:If you want to talk about idolology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29668843)

It also studies polotics, which seems to be about T-shirts [zazzle.com] (not polo shirts as you might think).

Re:If you want to talk about idolology (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about 5 years ago | (#29668405)

I have avoided Bioshock for that reason. I'm not enthusiastic about how it demonizes objectivism for a cheap plot point.

re: Dude, its 6 am, and i've been up for 24 hours. (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 5 years ago | (#29668555)

I have avoided Bioshock for that reason.

Re:If you want to talk about idolology (2, Informative)

nomadic (141991) | about 5 years ago | (#29669121)

I have avoided Bioshock for that reason. I'm not enthusiastic about how it demonizes objectivism for a cheap plot point.

How do you know it's a cheap plot point if you haven't played it? Maybe it's a very profound plot point?

Re:If you want to talk about idolology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29669343)

To be fair, objectivism is pretty easy to demonize anyway. Ayn Rand was a pretty good writer, but most of her books suffered because she used them as a stage to spew her ideological nonsense. Her philosophy was completely reactionary in nature, and made sense for her in the context of her own life... but too many people I know have read Atlas Shrugged and walked away becoming complete douchebags for it. If you read objectivism straight up, it's a guide to being a selfish asshole.

What about the economics? (3, Interesting)

symes (835608) | about 5 years ago | (#29668105)

you are not on your own anymore, you are part of a team

My guess is that people are more likely to stick with team games because of this social element, even when they don't feel like playing. The result is team games are more profitable, so they are more likely to survive.

Re:What about the economics? (2, Insightful)

MeisterVT (1309831) | about 5 years ago | (#29668397)

Causing games to be more social also helps sell DLC. If your bud buys those extra maps or levels, now you are more compelled to do the same, otherwise there is no more co-op for you. It is all about being able to sell more. While religion, politics, or anything else may be tackled in games, it is not to force a point, it is to create a world/scenario that can be relevant to the player. Why? So they play it more, recommend it to friends and buy the requisite expansions. Again, all about the money.

Like Left4Dead 2? (-1, Troll)

Fanboy Fantasies (917592) | about 5 years ago | (#29668127)

L4D2: More weapons, more zombies, double the niggers

Of course it reflects (-1, Troll)

quantic_oscillation7 (973678) | about 5 years ago | (#29668151)

...when the miltary industrial complex pays for games like America's Army, when the same complex pays and gives tips to hollywood, what do you think they're doing? Thursday 06 August 2009 by: Dahr Jamail and Jason Coppola, t r u t h o u t | Perspective http://www.truthout.org/080609A [truthout.org]

Re:Of course it reflects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29668545)

Of course it reflects when the miltary industrial complex pays for games like America's Army, when the same complex pays and gives tips to hollywood, what do you think they're doing?

About the first real question directly looking at political influence in games. Pity it's modded troll due to the spamlink at the end. Just move the spammy shit to your homepage setting in your user account and you won't get modded troll, doucebag.

not new (1)

Atreide (16473) | about 5 years ago | (#29668191)

are current games using network technology to push new value ?

or do they use network technology to push old value ?

when internet was non existent,
games were obviously oriented to the gamer,
not to relations with other players.

still look at first network games
in 93 I played Doom and we played more coop than PVP.
And i played it not over Internet but in LAN.

therefore games are more coop nowadays
because coop is much easier with Internet.

The reason for the lone hero... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29668203)

Is mostly due to technical limitations.

Re:The reason for the lone hero... (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about 5 years ago | (#29668393)

I'm inclined to agree. Too much is being read into this. The 'team' model just wasn't viable until the last decade. Networks weren't fast enough to do it with people, and AI wasn't good enough to do it without them (Daikatana! ahahaha).

However most combat through history has occurred between groups, and while individuals may distinguish themselves, they rarely are the fulcrum upon which the entire battle shifts. There isn't anything inherently 'collectivist' in that, and I say that as a rabid individualist.

Just salesmanship (1)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#29668211)

White people are a minority, world wide speaking, and that's the market for games. So of course you are going to have lots of other kinds of people. There's two kinds of liberalism, media liberalism and movement liberalism, and the two are DIFFERENT. Media liberalism is really just about internationalization so that they can sell the same crappy content to everyone. Conservatives that think that the media is liberal are just blind to this.

Don't dismiss games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29668217)

It's like dismissing art as meaningless in all forms.

Any time anyone writes or tells a story they are usually trying to make a case for or against something. Expressing their ideological views on something.

I disagree that calling anything a "game" makes it trivial. People are growing up playing these games. They don't care about the words that describe them. They play the games and may be influenced by the story they are exposed to.

Your favorite book or movie, did it have an effect on your opinion? A video game is no different. The prejudice against them is something the "grown-ups" have to deal with.

Would a current technology be a factor here? (3, Interesting)

Mortiss (812218) | about 5 years ago | (#29668233)

What about the possibility that previously in games due to technical limitations of the hardware the only character you could have is your "bald white space-marine" and the co-op was simply to hard to implement.

Therefore, the increase in co-op play is simply because it is now possible to implement much more complex game play elements and the whole "ideology" argument is just a try hard interpretation trying to push politic and racism discussion into what is pure entertainment?

Re:Would a current technology be a factor here? (5, Interesting)

ciderVisor (1318765) | about 5 years ago | (#29668407)

What about the possibility that previously in games due to technical limitations of the hardware the only character you could have is your "bald white space-marine"

That's how Mario [wikipedia.org] came to have his distinguishing features.

"Due to the graphical limitations of arcade hardware at the time, Miyamoto clothed the character in bright red overalls and a blue shirt to contrast against each other and the background, adding white gloves to distinguish the character's arms on the screen as they swung back and forth. A cap was added to let Miyamoto avoid drawing the character's hairstyle, while preventing issues of animating his hair as he jumped.[8] To make him appear human onscreen despite his small size they gave Mario a large nose, and added a mustache to avoid drawing a mouth due to the difficulty of illustrating facial expressions at that size.[10]"

Flower? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29668255)

Has anyone played Flower from the PSN before? I'd argue that game certainty puts forth a bit of political ideology. It is a beautiful game, and the political suggestion is subliminal - but there's no doubting it's there. I think it's more or less the vision of the developer - man and nature in harmony, green-peace and all that jazz. The game starts devoid of man-made objects... it gradually descends into a very dark and forlorn cityscape-esque locale, only to re-emerge in a bright and colorful world where the city pieces are blended with the nature pieces. Overtly political, maybe not - but there's no denying that the designer was pushing a message and that gamers, if they are paying attention at all to presentation, will understand that a message is being pushed.

Are all games political? No, of course not. Like movies though, and other forms of media, some are, some are not.

What about explicitly political games? (1)

sp332 (781207) | about 5 years ago | (#29668313)

I can't see how America's Army [1] could *not* be called political. What about Super Columbine Massacre RPG [2]? [1] http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/05/0655240 [slashdot.org] [2] http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/05/16/1847229&tid=10 [slashdot.org] and http://www.necessarygames.com/reviews/super-columbine-massacre-rpg-game-free-download-independent-windows-political-contemporary [necessarygames.com]

Reflecting changed times, or tech catching up? (2, Insightful)

WWWWolf (2428) | about 5 years ago | (#29668319)

Here's one thing I've noticed: When I started playing video games in 1980s, the experience was pretty disappointing. Why? The games could have been so much better but the technology just wasn't that good. In the latter half of 1990s, things changed: we got 3D, we got the Internet, we got the processing power and storage capacity. Nowadays, I have zero technological complaints. I can fire up, say, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and say "goddamn it, this is what I wanted as a kid - and so much more - and now I have it".

I'd argue that the same thing is happening with social interaction. Playing is a form of social activity. Duh. We've always wanted social games. Even in my Commodore 64 days, games were always much more fun when I had friends playing games with me - coop just wasn't always that fun because if you were lucky there were some good 2P games. That got slightly better in NES era, but not much. Later Nintendo thought "well, let's put in four controller ports. Everyone wants that." And social games have just got a whole lot better with the Internet. So, once again, it's technology growing to meet the demands of the game designers.

Here in Finland, a computer magazine published an April Fools story about an advanced multiplayer Elite clone in 1989 (I think), and the writers were surprised because no one noticed it was an April Fools story. People really thought it would have been incredibly amazing gameplay-wise and technologically plausible if your computer could make a dial-up connection to your friend's computer when you're flying in the same sector of space. And nowadays we have EVE Online. See? Technology catching up with peoples' dreams and expectations.

Re:Reflecting changed times, or tech catching up? (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 5 years ago | (#29668543)

See? Technology catching up with peoples' dreams and expectations.

Cool.

I'm still waiting for this [alice-dsl.net] (page 2) [alice-dsl.net]

It's impossible not to reflect ideology (4, Insightful)

nacho_dh (972780) | about 5 years ago | (#29668341)

Everything we do has an ideological/political/philosophical charge on it, not only in the interpretation but in the creation process itself; and videogames are definetly not the exception. You don't have to go to Wolfstein or Rise Of The Triad to check that.

We fight for freedom and justice in COD4 today as Rambo did in the 80's, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. As Nikita Khrushchev once said, the press is our chief ideological weapon, and if you think videogames are not press, then you're 20 years behind.

Re:Nobody expects reflected ideology (5, Funny)

ciderVisor (1318765) | about 5 years ago | (#29668463)

As Nikita Khrushchev once said, the press is our chief ideological weapon,

...the press, and fear. We have two chief ideological weapons - the press, fear and surprise !

Amongst our chief ideological weapons are such diverse elements as the press, fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the writings of Karl Marx, and nice red flags.

lowest common denominator (3, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 5 years ago | (#29668359)

Games are international so must appeal to the broadest market. That leaves no room for trivia such as party politics from any one particular country.

More horsepowe, more teammates (1)

bobetov (448774) | about 5 years ago | (#29668367)

Or it could be that having more CPU/GPU power allows for more AI, animation, etc and thus more teammates. Ditto for co-op play - we finally have networking that doesn't suck. It's more a simple technology question than something cultural or political, IMHO.

This story is gay (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29668375)

Just like you

Cha-Ching! (1)

happy_place (632005) | about 5 years ago | (#29668411)

There's no money in politics, so i can't see why anyone would see games as political!?

Seen this a lot (1)

Cloud K (125581) | about 5 years ago | (#29668421)

I'm sure many will recall the "subtle" (as a sledgehammer) environmental messages of Final Fantasy VII and the religion mocking of X, amongst various other games.

It makes sense really, as a lot of kids will play them and possibly take some of it in... I know I was influenced to some degree by games (and no, I don't go around shooting people! It's pretty obvious where the 'messages/morals' are and where the harmless fun is)

Same with cartoons and anime.

Re:Seen this a lot (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 5 years ago | (#29668433)

And movies, and books, and TV, and... Well, every other form of communication known to man.

Re:Seen this a lot (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 5 years ago | (#29668997)

Another RPG I recall having a strong anti-religious plot line was Breath of Fire 2.

Welcome to the real world (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about 5 years ago | (#29668435)

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

Hey Mr. Egghead Academic... I have a bit of a surprise for you. In real life, even the most elite commandos operate in squads because they're still just people. In real life and realistic games, a lone wolf soldier gets shot and doesn't easily heal. 20 guys can easily overpower him in a head-on fight. Only in a game like Halo where you play a genetically and cybernetically enhanced super soldier with a forcefield around his body armor would it even remotely make sense to have a lone wolf.

It has nothing to do with ideology; it has everything to do with the fact that most gamers aren't stupid and know that it is completely unrealistic to have a "realistic" FPS where a lone wolf can take down an entire battalion in a head-on fight.

Re:Welcome to the real world (2, Insightful)

ph0rk (118461) | about 5 years ago | (#29668659)

It may not be realistic, but it is often fun.

You know, the -other- reason to play games.

Eh. (2, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#29668493)

I'm not wildly convinced. Obviously, like any cultural artefact, a game is going to reflect its environment to some degree(and the apparent effect of environment will be a lot stronger once you narrow your focus to commercially viable/successful titles, since only things that are resonant with the population at large will sell well); but the effects of technical limitations and the strongly derivative tendencies of the industry are huge confounding variables.

For instance, at any given point in time, console games are going to have greater emphasis on co-op or small scale competitive play than are PC games. Is this because PCs are for rugged individualists and consoles are produced by the people's ministry for prolaterian collective culture? Clearly not, most of the players in the two industries are the same, or quite similar, it's just that the PC only really has single-user input support and tends to be connected to a smallish screen, while consoles have multi-user input support and tend to be connected to larger TVs.

Similarly, the rise in multiplayer only or heavily multiplayer oriented PC and console games is more about the fact that internet access is now quite common, and doesn't cost several dollars an hour anymore, which means that a designer can reasonably assume that a large pool of internet-connected players will exist at any given time.

I didn't RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29668509)

Or even the summary really, but Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, Xenosaga, etc. are all sociopolitical commentaries.

I'd say at least 25% of games are.

Ideology is everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29668533)

Well, you can ask the people at http://www.t-enterprise.co.uk/ if they think there is no ideology in games.

Their game "Rendition : Guantanamo" was picturing a prisoner at Guantanamo and the US soldiers were the bad guys for once.

That was once too many and the US dept of Justice pulled the game out from sales in North America and Europe. That's why you haven't heard of it.

The US dept of Defense intervened to convince this Scottish company not to distribute the game.

The same fate happened to a Turkish film, "The valley of the wolves" in which the Irak war and the Abuh Graib prison were pictured, with the same Hollywood take only reversed, showing the GIs as the bad guys.

No ideology.. Yeah right.

More at http://www.voltairenet.org/article160462.html

http://www.voltairenet.org/en

what about...? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29668587)

us vs. them
competition
indiscriminate violence
force as a means to achieve one's ends
found money (gold, coin, etc.)
possessions
hyper-masculinity
traditional gender expectations ...and this list could go on and on.

Not all games, but certainly many. It's hard to create a product (work of art, if you will) that resists or subverts the dominant cultural ideology of where and when it was made. Open up your minds, people.

cheers, -m

Re:what about...? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29668837)

Have to agree. The game that comes to my mind is 'The Sims'. It is a wonderful (and becoming slightly creepy now to me) snapshot of Western life at the beginning of the 21st century. Home ownership and 'remodeling', day job, salary, consumerism, technology as recreation - an interesting snapshot of a lifestyle that may not have a long-term future.

Well obviously (1)

imgod2u (812837) | about 5 years ago | (#29668617)

I mean, it's so clear to see GTA: San Andreas as a deep, biting commentary on urban poverty and political corruption. It's really quite compelling. I think the Museum of Modern Art should feature footage of it.

Re:Well obviously (1)

PopCultureDiva (844267) | about 5 years ago | (#29669051)

Hopefully you weren't being sarcastic. GTA IV also has a few parodies of conservative talk radio that I noticed pretty quickly. When you "switch cars" often, you'll tend to hear it.

Old news, even for slashdot (1)

turing_m (1030530) | about 5 years ago | (#29668637)

Of course $MEDIA will be used for ideological content if the media is powerful enough. Every developer with an opinion has the potential to imbue their game with their ideological or political inclination. All you need is text to embed political content, e.g. all you would really need is a terminal, which have been around forever. Of course, for political content to do much there must be a sizable audience.

Just off the top of my head, Theatre Europe for c64 had political content (e.g. anti-nuclear war) back in 1986. I'm sure this wasn't the first game with political content by any stretch of the imagination, just a random one from my youth that springs to mind. Virtually any war game where you can be cast only as one side in a historical war could be considered political. Chances are there were somewhat political games created in the 1970s, just the audience was limited. I'd be interested to know what the first such game was.

Coop gameplay (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 5 years ago | (#29668769)

I'm glad cooperative gameplay is enjoying a resurgence... it had always been my favorite mode since the days of the original Contra, hell, even since Clowns on the C64. With a single-player game, sure they might have more control over the experience, but at best you can get good at pushing buttons in an exact, repeatable order. And while watching experienced players breeze through Super Mario Bros. or Quake done Quick is interesting for a spell, it's kind of sad that that might represent the apogee of the single-player experience.... if you're really good, you can do it the same way each time. Multiplayer adds a lot more dynamicism missing from games, and allows you to focus on developing your character in some way that would actually be appreciated by someone else... do you always watch their back? Do you always leave them behind? Which kinds of spoils of war do you leave for them to pick up?

actually (2, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | about 5 years ago | (#29668783)

Far from it; the bald, white space-marine is one of the most over-used characters in modern gaming. But it increasingly rare that they are lone heroes.

Actually, for certain genres (I'm thinking traditional adventure, and 3-d platform), the beautiful young white female is the most over-used character.

Interesting idea, poorly written article (4, Insightful)

aeroelastic (840614) | about 5 years ago | (#29668865)

Wow, I don't know where the author is going with this. He starts out saying, "I'm not so concerned about whether video games can deliver such a [political] narrative." Later he says, "Ultimately, games will never be able to carry a political message". Then in the comments he says, "I certainly do believe games can carry a strong political message".

And then when someone brings up MGS and GTA he says, "Regarding the narrative in MGS and GTA, I think both franchises earned the right to be autonomous." If anyone can figure out what this guy is trying to say, please let me know.

I don't buy it (1)

jeffc128ca (449295) | about 5 years ago | (#29668903)

The comment about coop play vs. lone wolf is not a political or cultural thing, it's an evolution of technology. Having played games from the Commodore 64 and Atari 2600 to today's systems I can see this. Back in them thar days, games could only be designed to be played as an individual. You would play the exact same enemies/monsters who came at you from the exact same location in the exact same pattern every time like clockwork.

Later with the network play Doom allowed it became more fun to frag your friends who could adjust and were far more unpredictable than the computer characters (except that one guy who was a bit of a dork, but I digress). This has its limitations when you put the game on the internet and allow a free for all of 64 or 128 players shooting at anything that moves. It obviously had to evolve to coop and team play.

There may be some sprinkling of ideology in the games, but they don't last long. It's about fun game play, not messages.

Ehhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29668923)

Dumb. Even the one arguing in favor of games carrying political messages is ignoring Deus Ex, Half-Life 2, Shadow of the Colossus, Ico, and hell even Final Fantasy XII with all of its historical references.
People ignore the amazing past of video games in favor of shit like "Gears of War".
Clearly Bioshock represents the best of the industry! No chance that games like Deus Ex ever existed!
And the argument that videogames can only be "fun" and "escapism" is stupid. That's like saying films can "only be fun escapism". I have no problem with preferring video games that are fun, but claiming that's all the video game industry can be is arrogant- you're assuming that your definition for what a video game should be is the only one there can be. When anyone says anything to the contrary you get angry. "GAMES R FOR FUN I D0NT LEIK POLITICAL SHITZ LOLZORZ".

A reflection on the speaker (4, Insightful)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | about 5 years ago | (#29668969)

So Lee Bradley says:

...mainstream video games, even those seemingly void of political statement, are implicitly political.

OK. I understand that people feel that way. But the people that feel that "the way things are" is pretty much always "implicitly political" are the people who find political meaning in Every. Fucking. Thing.

To some people, the color of shirt you put on in the morning is political. The toothpaste you use is political. Everything is political because somewhere, somehow, sometime during the creation of that thing or state of being some person or entity involved had some political leaning that in some subtle way influenced the way they contributed to the process.

People who think like this believe the way I take a dump is political. (Seriously - find somebody who's gone off-grid and uses a composting toilet. Ask them about it. They'd have you believe that the way you urinate and defecate is a political statement.)

I don't buy it.

"Politics is a component of everything" may be true but it's also meaningless. Any statement so broad is meaningless because it has no real, practical impact on anything.

Folks who think like this need to take a big dose of practical pills. There's a political slant to every issue but that doesn't mean it's worthy of note. I suspect games change based on technology and human desires. We want distraction. We want to interact with others. Technology now enables that and some people have figured out how to make a buck meeting those needs by putting out games with a heightened co-op element. Big frikkin deal. Unless you can't win a game without calling your congressmen and demanding action on a bill currently before the House (or some such other real-world, practical political action) then a game isn't political.

It's just a game.

Clans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29669005)

The main form of social organization in a game is the clan. That's kind of interesting. Democracies emerged aboard pirate ships. Why not in clans? What's the dynamic?

Of Course Games are political (1)

stainlesssteelpat (905359) | about 5 years ago | (#29669033)

Just look at Leisure Suit Larry. If that wasn't a cunning ploy to keep geeks out of bars, leave them contained in basements rather than seducing real women, I don't know what is. All nerds now know that women are evil and conniving. They'll take your apple and your money and leave you tied to a bed for room service to find you.

on the plus side at least this demonstrated to one man [wikipedia.org] how to avoid such situations.

Sid Mayer's Civilization and evolution (2, Interesting)

blind biker (1066130) | about 5 years ago | (#29669243)

Just this morning I realized that Civilization (at least the current one, Civ IV) doesn't have the theory of evolution, or Darwin, mentioned in the Tree of Science of the game. I am pretty sure there wasn't in Civ 1, either. I wonder if that was on purpose, in order to not jeopardize sales to a certain demographic?

Re:Sid Mayer's Civilization and evolution (2, Interesting)

will_die (586523) | about 5 years ago | (#29669465)

The voyage of the beagle is wonder in those games.
That is about the only place it could fit since it is not a technology, I guess they could of added a Eugenics social path.
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