A recent tweet sent via Twitter from @PoliticalLetter struck a chord with me. The tweet read: “Dear Video Game Designers: Create content that gets people to revolt against the upper class, instead of the usual imperialist propaganda. I had to pause and reflect for a few minutes, I don’t think I had ever heard of video game content being described as “imperialist propaganda” before so what the heck were these people talking about?
Then I started to look more closely at some of the games in today’s market and I noticed a few common trends amongst several different franchises. Popular names such as Metal Gear Solid, Call of Duty, and Battlefield are pretty well-known for throwing around words like “Patriot”, “Loyalty”, and “America”, but certainly such references couldn’t be construed as propaganda could they?
Were the people behind @PoliticalLetter really trying to imply that companies such as Activision and EA, developers like D.I.C.E. and Hideo Kojima, had some sort of hidden pro-America agenda? Naturally this is all speculation since the tweet that they sent was rather vague (and was also one in a whole list aimed at various corporate and commercial groups) but it can’t be argued that their intent was to get people to start talking and to start thinking.
I began wondering if my own political views, as passive as they are, were being affected by the games I played. Is the upper class so fearful of being run out or overthrown that they’ve begun resorting to video games in order to secure their importance amongst young adults and teens? While games such as Modern Warfare and Battlefield do strive for a sense of realism, one would be hard-pressed to deny that such games also tend to glorify the actions of their characters who, more often than not, are American.
Now, while I’m sure we as a nation are a long, *long* way from seeing “Solid Snake Wants You!” posters plastered around our neighborhoods, I can’t help but think that @PoliticalLetter’s tweet was meant to show us gamers the slippery slope we might be sliding down without even realizing it. Perhaps it’s time for us to take a step back and ask ourselves not only what do we believe in but *why* do we believe in it?
It’s easy to take video games at face value but it’s important for both us gamers and the gaming industry at large that we also pay attention to the messages being conveyed to us through these games that we enjoy so much. Ultimately, I think @PoliticalLetter’s tweet was meant to clue us in on something: at the end of the day, it’s the gamers who define and shape the gaming industry, we should just be mindful of what exactly we’re shaping it into.
As the Ancient Greek aphorism goes: “Know thyself.”