Sincere & Positive Leftism In Games


center-right smugness cranked up to a billion and condensed into dark matter, showrun by a dude who was involved in some good fictional movies once upon a time which seemed to convince some people he’s fit for writing for the “real politics but don’t worry it’s satire” hellgenre for some reason

this is very reductive and also all you need to know about newsroom


I’ll stay far the fuck away from that then. Thats a whole thing I dont want to have to deal with


I am still interested in The Occupation. It’s got some real red flags in the marketing, but even if it turns out grody, it’s one of the few games pitching itself like this i can’t quite get a read on. There’s some part of my brain that’s saying there’s signifiers in the gameplay that it’s going left and just not saying so in marketing because it’s primarily marketing to the PC gaming crowd, despite the console versions existing. Maybe that’s my remaining naivety speaking, but I still go into games like this hoping to find actually good and interesting politics.

I mean, wouldn’t it be amazing if games with hyperambitious systems and persistent AI memory n schedules n shit weren’t just made by creepy white nerds ultimately trying to simulate cryptofascist fantasies, and instead actually delivered meaningful narratives? I like to imagine that world someday being reality.


I am interested don’t get me wrong. A bomb going off in the north west, Justice for the 27. Patriot Act esq policy being introduced. Journalist uncovering the truth. It’s all interesting but my biggest fear is they try a big twist, that you uncover it’s the left/anti-facist who orchestrated the attack pinning it on the authoritarian right.


I share the same worries with a dose of worrying about the “You The Player get to decide if the right or left is bad” or “You The Player are the only correct one and True Neutral” schtick.


Im gunna hold off until I see some reviews I think, no doubt it’s covered by the Waypoint folks


Do you think you could elaborate on why you think immersive sims might have “a baked-in centrism?” Is it because an emphasis on player choice in narrative can frequently result in designers validating all choices, even if they’re unethical?


Arcanum is promising but has all the same pitfalls as just about every single mainstream fantasy story that tries to consciously talk about race and class, in that it removes all people of color, all proletarians and replaces them with Orcs and Ogres that are naturally less intelligent and stronger and then just calls it a day. Even when the writing is trying to be sympathetic to them that’s fucked, and then it pulls shit like putting the human zoo joke Orc in the museum not a block away from the striking Orcs, and it’s just the worst. Then there’s the thing where most of the big capitalists are Gnomes. Like all this kind of fiction just does this shit and doesn’t even begin to get close to actually interrogating the relationship of race and fantasy races. Like barely even goes farther than the ole “Hey it’s fucked up that every single Orc is born evil huh?” Its so weak.

I really like Arcanum tho otherwise i had fun playing as a deserter-highwaywoman and it does let you call someone bourgeois as an insult when you threaten to murder them. The necromancy spell that lets you talk to dead NPCs is cool too and it has a great soundtrack.


You hit the nail on the head. This also applies to a lot of the canonization of “the best/smartest” RPGs.

That’s not to say they can’t take a stance, or that they can’t have all available choices rooted on one side of the spectrum, or that they can’t even have very overt player criticism/alienation on the other side of right-leaning choices (this is what some try and fail to do because the consequences are never bold enough, and just become fun evil playthroughs people can/want to invest tons of time in), just that they mostly don’t do that. Even Prey managed to have some gross implications with a moral choice involving sparing/killing dude with “solicitation of a minor” on his rap sheet.

Also most of them are lead/written by old white dudes who “don’t like politics/just wanna make video games that make u think”, including the foundational work from Looking Glass being mostly written by Ken Levine, so that doesn’t help.

Seriously, until minorities actually get to head several parts of several fantasy or sci-fi projects, both genres’ big-deal things will always be rooted in race realism, no matter how smart people swear they are.

Spending much of a year binging all forms of Star Trek with a sort of morbid fascination made me understand this from basically all angles it can and does happen.

Though, at least with that, nobody’s straight writing the fucking words “Racial Benefits” or “Racial Traits: +1 INT” on the reg and implementing it into a UI and going “yep, this all seems good” what the fuck rpgs


Speaking of, are there ANY rpgs that dodge the “you’re X so you get +1 INT” trope? Destiny comes to mind, but it doesn’t really have numbers to speak of in the first place.


Speaking of The Occupation, has anyone played it yet? There aren’t a ton of reviews out on it, but most of the ones that are out don’t go into much detail about the actual plot/story side of things (which I get to a degree, you don’t want to spoil stuff), but really just harp on that it apparently is a bit of a buggy mess? I’m just insanely curious about it, but not enough to drop $30 right away on it.


What platform is it on? I didn’t see it on steam.


I need to ACTUALLY look.


All NPC dialog about the fallen suggest they are the race with +1 scavenge. The games treatment of non-playable races in the universe is really bad - language that wouldn’t be out of place in a white supremacist forum, but in a video game about aliens.


Yikes! I was thinking specifically of character creation and totally missed that. Now that I think about it, this really dampens the impact of all the diversity they were gunning for with their human characters.


I watched Jack de Quidt stream it for a little over an hour and a half a few days ago and in just that time it crashed four or five times and since it doesn’t have manual saving, he had to start over from the beginning each time. So I think for now at least, maybe wait to see if there’s a patch for stability. It seemed janky in the way I’d kind of expect an immersive sim to be. Couldn’t really say much in terms of the story and how it handles what it’s trying to do since it was only the first level, though. It’s definitely an interesting game, at the very least.


I suspect we’re going to start seeing examples in the coming years now there’s more of a bent in some RPG development circles to be inclusive. The Harebrained Schemes Shadowrun games fell into this is trying to retain some faithfulness to the original game mechanics, but I suspect if they ever revisit the universe, they might try to avoid that mistake and change the game more significantly (like overhauling decking in Hong Kong).


In Gravity Rush 2 Kat spends some time getting to understand the stratified class system of the new city and then leads a violent anarchist revolution to dismantle it. It’s pretty fucking dope.


Kat is too good and too pure and it makes me sad she probably won’t be in any more games


Same, but I’m glad she got an actual conclusion to herstory. You can tell the devs weren’t really expecting a sequel.


I’ve seen this a lot in both political and moral/ethical choices in those kinds of games. Which is kind of frustrating, because I feel like you can both allow for immoral and unethical options in games and also condemn them deeply. There’s no reason a “work with the bigots” option can’t end poorly for you.

While it’s not an immersive sim, I noticed this with Fallout: New Vegas. The game has an explicit Karma system, and killing some members of some factions will lower your Karma score, while some will raise it. Caesar’s Legion is… I mean, they’re, like, fascists??? Like literally every interaction with them is absolutely HORRIBLE??? But if you kill any of them outside of a mission, it affects your Karma score. That is the system going out of its way to validate Caesar’s Legion and it just makes me mad. Like, even the possibility of working with Caesar could have some redeemability if it was handled with the right wrist-slapping, but… Yo, is it really fitting in this game to treat attacking the LITERAL SLAVER FACTION that SLAUGHTERS AND TORTURES EVERYONE as “Bad Karma”? Fuck thatttttttttt

sorry 4 rant, i acutally like new vegas a lot it’s just like. fuckkkkk thattttt