Video games will always be a place for politics, so accept it
“I don’t believe it’s a political game,” said Jacob Minkoff, Call of Duty Modern Warfare campaign Director, when discussing the new game with Game Informer in 2019. This is not a political game. Call of Duty – A game that shows Russia edging closer to war with a (fictional) Eastern European state. It features a campaign plot with Russia threatening to attack the country. The map also features a terrorist organization called Al-Qatala. This ‘Highway of Death” is completely uninspiring from the authentic one located in the Middle East. This may have been the site of Actual War Crimes. Not politically.
Continues Minkoff Are we referring to topics that are similar to the geopolitics in the world we live in today? Yes. That’s because that is the subject of Modern Warfare.” Three-two seconds into the interview or the video edit, a developer who was afraid to say yes, our game was political, completely contradicted himself. It doesn’t matter if you say that this game is based upon this thing, this place, or this event. The themes speak for themselves, and while the locations might be fictional, we haven’t fallen for this; our game’s not political rhetoric since the days of Desert Strike and its not-at-all-based-on-Saddam-Hussein dictator, the unsubtly named Kilbaba. It was not too long ago.
It’s understandable. Call of Duty is a massive franchise. One of the most popular video games. Its sales each year have a significant impact on the publisher’s bottom line. The annual CoD in 2022 will be Modern Warfare II. Note: it is not as the game was released in 2009. It still has a lot of work ahead of 2021’s entry, vanguard. Did not meet its sales expectations. You cannot afford to lose a significant portion of your audience if you are a spokesperson for Call of Duty. A large segment of gamers will post below any article on politics in gaming or simply state a position that most common-sense-minded people would agree is A Good Thing.
We have all seen these comments before. You may have even written those words right now. HHere’sthe truth: video games, like movies, literature, and art across all expressive spectrums, are influenced by the lives of those who create them. These games are part of our daily lives, even though they are often presented in a fantasy world and can be prone to exaggerations.
Politics are everywhere. They ccan’tmove. It could be something local, such as how your block was the last to receive faster internet due to a technicality at the local borders that dates back to three decades ago; or it could be something global, such as RRussia’songoing aggression against Ukraine (and other places), the unsalvageable mess of the British Conservative Party (your opinions may differ but mine are set), and any other news that makes national or international headlines. It ddoesn’tmatter if anyone on the development team says it, but the next Call of Duty will look at the same headlines and take inspiration from them. Modern warfare is what it is.
Tim Constant says that it is impossible to keep politics out of games. He is the creative director of a post-Brexit video game that takes place in the fictional UK, where the government has moved to the right and is manipulating people (sounds absurd, ddoesn’tit? )- and its sequel which takes place in “”roken America”” He continues, “”nything creative will be biased,””even if iit’snot designed to be political.
The games of Tim, created at PanicBarn by No More Robots clearly have the intent to be seen as explicitly political. This was a feature that was woven into the fabric of their games and brought to the forefront of their marketing. Sometimes, though, the politics of a game are hidden, part and parcel of the story. They are there and it is foolish to deny their existence. One example is Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption. Tore Olsson is an associate professor at the University of Tennessee. He has integrated this game into his lectures about American history and changing political landscapes and movement. This was something other academics could learn from.