I recently played through Forager, an indie game that released last year, and have been thinking a lot about capitalism in video games. In Forager (and the Civilization game series) capitalism and colonization are skills. They give you buffs. In one of the Civ games it actually increases your society’s happiness from banks and the like. That might seem tame, but for a game released after the 2008 financial crisis in the US, it seems a bit ridiculous to me.
This had me curious, are there any good examples of non-obvious propaganda in games y’all have noticed? I wrote an article about this on Forager and shared it on my Facebook and my grandmother (of all people lmao) commented this: “[This] game reminds me of Suess’s The Lorax! I can see how that game would brainwash young people in to getting greedy, you know, more more, never enough!” which made me realize that genres of game could even potentially be propagandist. Most Minecraft, Stardew Valley, and Animal Crossing-likes fall into this in different ways. The exploitation of the land, constantly needing more resources, needing to sell things your friends give you for money because you need money to survive. Maybe we’re trained to not engage with those topics in games.
But at the same time, should we be concerned about exploitation of the land in Minecraft? In my opinion it’s good to, at the very least, attempt to critically engage with it. Past that though I’m unsure if we should be saying “Hey, Minecraft is all about exploiting the earth for resources and not facing any consequences, maybe play something that critically engages with that instead?”
Here’s the Forager article I mentioned above if anyone is interested in some longer-form thoughts on it: https://medium.com/vistas-mag/forager-is-a-capitalism-simulator-without-consequence-cf8145f8ca