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  1.  (112.1)
    Maybe I'm just slow on the up take (there is no maybe about it) but recently I've noticed a disturbing trend in the politics that are represented in computer games...

    I was looking at a particular Halo 3 website and noticed it was sponsored by the US AIR-FORCE.


    It made me think about the actual story and what each element represented, such as: UNSC is an unnaturally similar acroynm to USMC; the Covenant are a conglomerate of alien races bound by religious nutters who want to blow everyone up and thus embark on a GREAT JOURNEY (does that sound like how american public opinion views radical, if not all, islam?). What about the fact that the earth-people of the future have a military aesthetic based on the american navy and who lack any arabs, Indians, chinese, koreans, pakistanis etc among their ranks? What happened to the Eastern half of the world (the most populated part of the world) or even South America?

    I realise this isn't a news-flash. Usually, I'm so doped-up by the game that it passes me by. Which is the point I suppose...

    Anyway, the actual point: anyone else notice dodgy goings on in the lucifer dream-box of games titles? Sinister messages and ideas that are shaping young minds? Is this another consumer drug?

  2.  (112.2)
    Well, if you want a trend, I think maybe you have to come up with more than one example, right?
  3.  (112.3)
    I suppose it's the trend for many games to lean towards the 'space-marine' imprint (that Aliens seemed to introduce and that appears to be championed by microsoft) and the reliance on slightly futuristic real-world conflicts too - which is all about trying to marry reality to the 'space-marine' thang (make it seem more plausible). In the last year or two we have seen released/to be released: call of duty 4, ghost recon, rainbow six, battlefield 2, battlefield: bad company, americas army (OFFICIAL US MILITARY GAME), army of two, bionic commando, blacksite, jericho, command & conquer 3, crackdown, crysis blah blah blah.

    Call of duty 4 is a probably the most balanced politically - which doesn't say alot. You play SAS or marine and you see a hint of the nastiness involved in conflicts: The first two people you shoot in the game are asleep. They torture a man and shoot him in the head. You also get an Achievement (digital heroine but more pointless) for stabbing injured soldiers who crawl along the floor bleeding from your freshly placed bullets as they desperately drag themselves to some hiding place so they may die quietly and alone or foster the hope of some rescue team finding him.

    Harsh, yet a throughly addictive game. It's good that infinity ward dared put that kind of stuff in a game since it is still considered a child's toy. But I think that younger, more innocent, more impressionable minds might not 'get it' (But thats my superiority complex slipping through).

    Crackdown is about genetically engineered super humans going around and causing mass destruction in the name of the law. Criminals are second-class citizens and are despensed at will. Judge Dredd-ish but without the sense of irony (which makes it slightly frightening).

    look at:

    It's worrying, games are geared towards very simple xenophobic attitudes: most of the non-westerners in games are bad guys; sychophants who will betray you at the first sign of bulletary (uh...) or honour-bound bad guys who 'see the light' or gain grudging respect for their mortal enemies. This is a a change from games using america's 'internal enemies' (dissidents) prior to 2001 (see splinter cell chaos theory/double agent). It's like during the eighties all games (well, films too) were geared towards anti-communism (operation wolf, cabal etc) but with games being more sophisticated and engrossing will it have a further, more potent effect? Just looking for thoughts really...

    jesus - this is far too long. Can't tell I'm unemployed, right?
    • CommentTimeDec 3rd 2007
    If anything, I think most games (and, of course, this is way open to interpretations) are just growing up, and you're going to see a lot more references to real-world events, philosophies, and beliefs.

    I mean, who would have thought there would be an Ayn Rand-based FPS? And that it would be a major hit?
    • CommentTimeDec 3rd 2007 edited
    you have to also consider , the US is the only country glorifying its own military and law enforcement figures in the popular culture they are generating. Since gaming is this generation's defining entertainment industry, maybe you are just seeing a country's preferences in their gaming products, much like in japan (second market for video games) have a preference for cutesy and infantile design in theirs.

    edit : virtual keyboard on ipod touch is smart, but not as smart as one would like.
  4.  (112.6)
    Bioshock is a great example of computer games growing up which deals with issues in a fairly grown-up way. They are few and far between though. I would add the Metal Gear series to that list. However: It's the games that seem to hi-jacked by people with larger agendas that are worrying. Reflecting the current politic/social climate is one thing. Showing only one side is another.
    • CommentAuthorKunundrum
    • CommentTimeDec 3rd 2007
    How about that stuff just makes games more badass and fun to play, and there's not much more to it. Maybe I'm just a simpleton though.
  5.  (112.8)
    Yeah, it's definately about empowerment.
    • CommentTimeDec 3rd 2007
    "I wanted to see exotic Vietnam, the jewel of Southeast Asia. I wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture,
    and kill them."
  6.  (112.10)
    Crackdown is about genetically engineered super humans going around and causing mass destruction in the name of the law. Criminals are second-class citizens and are despensed at will. Judge Dredd-ish but without the sense of irony (which makes it slightly frightening).

    At the risk of sounding like the living embodiment of Rockstar Games' usual defense of their GTA games, if you go around killing civilians you will be hunted down and killed by your colleagues. Of course, you're so much more powerful than them that it makes no difference, but still, it is addressed.

    I will say, your points touch on a paranoia of mine; that the scene in Barry Levinson's appalling Toys, where evil military douche Michael Gambon uses video games to teach kids how to control tiny weapons of mass destruction, might actually be true, and FPSs are all created by the military to make us their fighting slaves. Please God, I would shrivel up and die if there was anything salvageable from that hellish movie!
  7.  (112.11)
    Few films raped my eyes so completely.

    I'm not against violence in games, by the way. I find it cathartic and helpful. If I don't double-tap some array of pixels in the brain daily I may stalk the cubicles of my workplace with a mean look in my eye and a replica samurai sword. If I had a job.

    Everything that ever comes out of my mou-- fingers is paranoid. But I think culture is the prevailing ideas held by a society. To fuel it further:

    I was just watching an Army Jobs advert on Channel 4, and it showed them piloting an unmanned aerial vehicle with an Xbox 360 controller... ...I wondered whether this was just for TV, but it seems that US marines have also been spotted controlling an SUGVs (small unmanned ground vehicle) with an XBox controller.

    from (Check out the picture)

    It's like that classic Simpson's episode where lisa and bart join the army, to paraphrase:

    "...your job is to build and maintain those robots."
      CommentAuthorJohn Smith
    • CommentTimeDec 3rd 2007
    America's Army has been out for years-- I've heard it's actually a better game than you'd imagine, probably as good as you're going to get in a free FPS.
  8.  (112.13)
    I'm not denying the quality of gameplay in these games. It's just, as a medium, the prevailing belief is that they are geared at kids and that it's ample opportunity to try putting agendas in an oft ignored format. Games are more interactive than TV and movies (although harder to relate to in other respects) and their effects (if there are any) aren't going to be able to be read for a while yet. It's still a young medium. Just something to muse over and see what anyone else thinks, really.
  9.  (112.14)
    It's probably no coincidence that there was an armed forces recruiting office two doors down fro the EBGames at the corner of 71st and Keystone in Indianapolis.
  10.  (112.15)
    I can't think of a single example I have ever seen of a recruiting office near a game store, I would argue without other examples that is exactly a coincidence. US military recruiting is very focused, for good or ill, on recruiting students with doubts about college - either academically or financially, and I would look more too patterns of locating them anywhere they expect 17-18 year olds to traffic.

    Hah, the nearest one I know is next to a Pearl Vision, a Whole Foods and a Staples. So must be after health conscious office workers with vision issues.

    Now I have seen a few commercials which move from two teens playing games and suddenly the game is asking them if they want the real thing, which is right in the direction of evidence. But I have not seen it recently or seen any evidence that it works.

    As for the US as the only county that glorifies its Military in fiction? Japan, as pointed out the second largest market (and still the source of a sizable number of productions) focuses heavily on the JSDF or near future equivalents throughout manga, anime and games. Glorification of the military - especially the fighter pilot - is incredibly common. Not a major point, but seems unfair and highly inaccurate to characterize them as only the land of super deformed and shojo.
  11.  (112.16)
    As I turned the corner, I saw that the Army actually did have one lone gaming station set up to show off their America's army game, strategically placed directly across from the Bungie Store.

    You are right about the japanese obsssion with war. Metal gear 3, which discuss' the cod-philosphy of the soldier, is a perfect example. I suppose the japanese love of war is kind of like a eunich's obssession with sex. It's not just the military predominance over game ideology. Sims, arguably one of the biggest selling games ever, originally had no homosexuals, no diseases like cancer or aids, no war, no terrorists, no ghettos etc and yet it is called sims (a shortening of simulator/simulacra, I assume). Computer games are a very easy place to propigate lies like early movies (Birth of a nation, anyone?)
  12.  (112.17)
    Well, isn't that how they sell war nowadays? The raddest future tech that will somehow lead to teaching skills for the real world? Like I'm playing through Call of Duty 4 and I'm finding it insanely difficult even on the 'moderate' difficulty level. If I suck that hard at the game I can't imagine how much more I'd be fragbait in real life.

    I have a buddy who did some time as a Lieutenant in Afghanistan and he told me a story about using some very basic flanking tactics to take out some Taliban who were holed up in a building and he said it was so much like Rainbow Six or Ghost Recon that it frightened him a little.
  13.  (112.18)
    it's kind of like those old World war propaganda posters that offer adventures and thrills to all the lads as we ride over the hill and give the bosch a damn fine thrashing!

  14.  (112.19)
    Yes, that what sims is short for in a general sense, but it was "The Sims" following simcity, simlife ect. As in "The Joneses" not as in "The Simulacrum" except in a sense all of Will Wrights work is an exploration of some simulacrum.

    Jumping from The Sims - an attack on commercial culture (buying more lead to being less happy over time was sort of the under the hood secret of the game) to Birth of a Nation is...awkward to say the least. Thats rushing from the idea that games may express the normative values of society to the idea they are intentional propaganda to promote exclusionary or corrupt values. As a side note, a quick google confirms gay sims perfectly playable - at least in Sims 2. Finally, topics such as terrorism and war were certainly out of scope, a simulacrum does not need to model everything and The Sims was about suburbia.

    I think your looking for signs games are tools of the establishment or normative values without the right evidence or research. Take MGS, I was thinking of quite a few games in my earlier comment, but not Metal Gear.

    Metal Gear is a series of games which always return to the idea war is evil, those who make it are corrupt, and the most noble thing a soldier can do is rise above war and hold tight to humanity. They are - in the end - amazingly liberal games. MGS3 comes closest to glorification - but under the surface its showing why all these people (warmongers all) deserved to be betrayed - which is what Snake will eventually do as Big Boss. The games love soldiers sure, but hate war, and in the end all the heroes walk away from it for more noble causes. Meanwhile the villains keep being revealed as pawns, tools or the leaders of governments who sought to make people into things (Boss was used, Liquid is a maniac and arms dealer, Solidus was the President)
  15.  (112.20)
    I always saw Big Boss going rogue as his wanting to create a world in which he and his fellow soldiers and assassins would no longer be "just tools of the government or anyone else." Which I guess makes sense in context but it sort of lead to his own fascist survival of the strongest doctrine in the NES games, or at least what I vaguely remember about them. He seemed like such a nice guy in MGS3, too.

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