We've Had It With Games That Evoke Politics While Denying Their Existence


#1

It's June, and the world is falling apart, but the games are good (mostly), and we all have new and ongoing games to chat about. Austin is playing Mario Tennis: Aces and I held back completely from using a "Love" joke on the podcast. He also played the unfortunate New Gundam Breaker. Rob checks in with his bad nuclear strategies in Manhattan Project and rainy vikings in Ancestor’s Legacy. Patrick is deep into Vampyr lore and enjoying some Hollow Knight on Switch. And I've got kind words for OnRush, Prey, and the very latest from DontNod, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. Then, we have a lot to say about a rather heavy bucket question on politics in games.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/nekpz7/waypoint-radio-civility-politics-in-games

#2

Another good episode, thanks :grinning:

Danielle mentioned something about a video regarding Far Cry 5’s refusal to interact with political ideas, and I was hoping someone might be able to help me get a link that way.

Thanks!


#3

I just want to say that Austin is 100% correct when he says gundam breaker 3 is great. I’m so bummed the new one is trash.


#4

I think it’s Far Cry 5 and the Art of Saying Nothing (Spoilers)


#5

I’m surprised that the discussion about Ancestors Legacy never brought up how it was made the developers of Hatred, or that the developers of Kingdom Come Deliverance also assisted with the game. Did they hide those details as the game got launched?


#6

For the discussion of the contrasts between Bethesda fallout and Interplay fallout, I thought at least having the opening of Fallout 1 would give some context. Content warning for violence and fascism. I’d also say that Fallout 1 is a good game but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s age really shows. It’s not that the graphics are bad or the systems aren’t well thought out. It’s just really slow. After a very small amount of thought, I have to ask myself, “Did the protagonist in Fallout 4 ever give an opinion on the war or his time as a soldier?”


#7

Yeah, that was kind of a strange thing not to mention. I remember reading/watching a thing on GameStar* about the Hatred devs publicly back-paddling on the controversy part of it (whatever that may mean besides “we milked it for the publicity”) while transitioning to Ancestors Legacy.

*Gamestar is a german publication that has a history of repeatedly falling for the “Ohhh! look at those authentic european games with the absolutely not revisionist history”

PS: On a lighter note. Robert, Ancestors Legacy has Slavs in it. Please mention the Slavs, Robert.


#8

Worth reminding folks at this point that Hatred was not just an edgy controversy-stirrer, but literally made by white supremacists much the same as kingdom come was. Most people here already know that, but because it was in 2014, that detail wasn’t focused on quite as much as it maybe should have been in coverage nor the popular memory of the game.

Fuck man, may as well get agony’s developers on there just to complete a trifecta of modern-ass gamer bile


#9

A similar recent example of the right trying to co-opt message without engaging with its context in good faith that was on my mind while listening to that part of the discussion was the bad-faith argument that the right adopted trying to get Samantha Bee cancelled for insulting Ivanka Trump, “because after all wasn’t Roseanne just canceled for Roseanne Barr insulting Valerie Jarrett?”

…an argument that completely dodges the contexts of those insults: the first, a woman using a gendered slur against another woman, and the second, a white woman being racist against a black woman.

The hollow co-opting of a message to make false analogies is something that I feel might be related to/rooted in the argument that “fascists have no imagination, so create no art open to nuanced interpretation”? Like, “let us take this art that resonates and evokes real pain, and try to tap into the pathos without respecting the context that pain is rooted in.”


#10

Same. Gundam breaker 2 is the only game I’ve ever imported. I really hope they patch this one to fix it or something because that story sounds like exactly my shit.


#11

One thing that came to my mind while I was listening was that every time, when people say “we want to explore different positions” the “different” position is always the conservative/reactonary one. I mean you could technically say the same thing while having your game explore more progressive ideas, but this just never happens.

It also implies that:

  1. People with more progressive/left-leaning positions are existing in isolated bubbles and are not willing to engage with conservative positions from the get go, so they need to be coerced.

  2. Most people that play games are left-leaning/progressive, which as much as I wish that were the case, clearly isn’t. Kind of reminds me of this “the liberals control the mass media” stuff that always comes from the right.


#12

I’d go even further and say that the “different” position is the bigoted and hateful one. I mean, if a conservative wanted to discuss deficit spending and balanced budgets, I’m happy to oblige. But too often what these people are really pushing for is a tolerance of their hate speech. And that I cannot oblige. But unfortunately, ostensibly respectable outlets like The New York Times, CNN, The Atlantic, and Twitter continue to air and defend these awful views in defense of free speech. Fuck that so much.

On a related note, why does the Waypoint staff and other left leaning folks continue to use Twitter? At this point it has become clear that the site is run by white supremacists, fascists, and their sympathizers. Why isn’t there an en masse liberal movement away from such a clearly hateful and abusive service? There are other popular platforms that don’t traffic in this crap, let’s use them instead.


#13

I understand that the focus on this podcast and the discussion around it is gonna be much more focused on the discussion of how games are trying to eschew politics, but I gotta say my peace on this before I die.

Hearing that Hollow Knight took lessons from Dark Souls while games like Nioh only copied it, or is derivative of the Souls series, is wild to me. Nioh as a game, while clearly drawing from the Souls series does SO much different and is at it’s core a different game. Hollow Knight, on the other hand, took maybe it’s worst mechanic from the souls games. Killing your ghost to get your currency back doesn’t belong in a game like this where there is so much difficult platforming.


#14

I find it really interesting to contrast Techland’s recent position on politics (“We didn’t do it 100% intentionally, but it’s impossible to avoid”) with others, especially since they’re not working in a space that lines up so aggressively with real world issues.


#15

I’d say that’s only a relatively small part of why people say that Hollow Knight borrows from Dark Souls. I played through the game a year or so ago and I think it’s one of the few games that’s managed to do minimalist storytelling as well as DS - in a few places I’d argue perhaps even a little better - in a way that really makes you want to know what the hell happened as you traverse the smoking rubble left behind by a once-grand civilization. It also has some pretty fantastic combat that will punish you for minor mistakes and a lot of really fun and interesting boss fights.

By the by, I really like Nioh (I’ve been thinking about playing it some more a lot lately) and agree that it’s trying to do something quite a bit different than Souls, with the tough-but-fair combat thing being the main parallel.


#16

I can envision an overtly political game that assiduously denies or ignores its message in the marketing in order to convey (backdoor?) the message to the players when they actually play the game. I couldn’t necessarily fault that, but I’ve also never seen it done ever.

P.S. @Navster if you’re tired of ostensibly left-leaning publications giving platform to fascists, consider reading Current Affairs instead!


#17

I just reinstalled it after I upgraded my PS4’s harddrive. It is a good game!


#18

I deeply love Fallout 1 but it very much is a game that you have to come in aware that it is slow and that you really should go into the options and crank up the speed of movement (unless you want to spend a long time for characters to move in combat).

That said, the talk about Fallout and it’s willingness to talk about politics did make me think about the one thing that’s always been a gaping hole in Fallout’s commentary.

Race, sexism, and LGBTq topics pre-war. So getting to the part about not confronting elements and was curious about Fallout. It’s a bit different but one of the things that has always felt awkward to me is that, while Fallout 1 and 2, to a lesser degree NV, a lesser degree 3, and an even lesser degree 4. All of them do address certain political elements with the concept being the veneer of 50s raygun idealized future combined with rampant capitalism, cold war paranoia, and jingoistic imperialism. At the same time though, it’s always been something peculiar to me the general absence of overt racism and other forms of discrimination. Admittedly 1 and 2 were far more reserved in mentioning the pre-war era and 3+ added persecution of Chinese-Americans (as far as I remember) but it always felt sort of off not addressing Jim Crow, the Lavender Scare, harsh immigration rules, and so on. There’s the stuff that sends mixed messages where racism does exist towards chinese-americans and there is some terminals mentioning the rounding up of queers using disease outbreaks as an excuse to target them but it’s extremely on the margins. I dunno, they just mentioned Fallout and it’s one of the things that’s always been a bit peculiar of an element that doesn’t really get addressed as often. Not to say it isn’t in the games. Even 4, that feels like it has stumbled the most, in some of the side terminals and lore bits does bring up these subjects but they often feel particularly diluted.


#19

I’m quite sad as well that New Gundam Breaker turned out so poorly. Hopefully Bamco will try to salvage it a la VS Force on Vita. In the mean time I’ll just stick with Gundam Breaker 3 and wait for a price drop.


#20

Are there transcripts of the podcasts? Listening to podcasts isn’t quite doable for me right now. I’m sorry if this has been answered elsewhere.