• hitmyspot
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    2 months ago

    It’s like the recent posts about the Batman game that ended up becoming a lord of the rings game. The game engine and mechanics don’t have to be about the theme. Civ could easily have dropped the political part and had more of the trade and development. It would be a different game but not necessarily a different genre. The politics is a mechanic, not to make a point.

    In a civ game,.it’s a tactics game, that happens to be about politics. Someone who is strong tactically will do well, but someone with vast political knowledge may not do well if their tactical thinking is poor.

    When a game has political themes, that doesn’t mean it’s a game about politics. Take the last of us. It’s a zombie survival action adventure game. It has political themes about government overreach, as many zombie media do. It’s not a game about politics. It’s not even about zombies. It’s about survival. If there were no political overtones, the gameplay would be the same but the world and feel would be different.

    A political game is trying to make a point, as much art will. Different interpretation of art can lead to different outcomes too. Look at helldivers, inspired by starship troopers which itself is based on a book. Starship troopers is a satire. The book is not and is propaganda, rather than poking fun at propaganda. I haven’t played the game but from what I’ve seen it looks like it’s leaning more to the movie than the book.

    • jjjalljs@ttrpg.network
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      2 months ago

      Take the last of us. It’s a zombie survival action adventure game. It has political themes about government overreach, as many zombie media do. It’s not a game about politics. It’s not even about zombies. It’s about survival. If there were no political overtones, the gameplay would be the same but the world and feel would be different.

      I don’t think it’s possible to make a zombie game that has other living people without having some political subtext. Not politics like literal “this is the government”, but like when you meet another survivor what happens? That’s going to have a political read to it.

      Do they betray you? Do you betray them? Is that rewarded or punished? What does the game spend time modeling and what does it reward? All of that has meaning. All of that has political interpretations. (Maybe this is a little Literature 301)

      A game where all of the other survivors can’t be trusted is saying something different than one where they all work with you. Even if it’s in a completely made up setting with no flags, a game where all the outsiders are thieves and scoundrels is saying something, even if the author(s) didn’t do so intentionally.

      A game where you can’t even hurt them if you try is different than one that rewards you for callous murder.

      The politics is more than literal “here is the government”

      • hitmyspot
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        2 months ago

        You’ve obviously never played Plants vs Zombies, lol.

        True, though. Politics plays a part in everything. When those tropes are used to make a point it’s political. When they exist it’s politics, but not political in the same way. Being political is not just being about politics, but being about politics in the real world.

        • jjjalljs@ttrpg.network
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          2 months ago

          You’ve obviously never played Plants vs Zombies, lol.

          You could definitely write a compelling essay about how PvZ is a condemnation of the isolation of suburban life haha

          True, though. Politics plays a part in everything. When those tropes are used to make a point it’s political. When they exist it’s politics, but not political in the same way. Being political is not just being about politics, but being about politics in the real world.

          I think I see the divergence. People are saying “it’s political” to mean “it’s explicitly about politics in the real world”. I still think there’s also gaps where some people see subtext as obvious and other people don’t read it at all. Or people think it’s being used to make a point, but it’s just there.

          Like, if a game has a gay character, is that being used to make a point? People will say it’s “political” that that character exists. If the man says “I’m looking forward to seeing my husband” vs “wife”, that’s not really “being used to make a point”, but I’m certain some people would have a freakout.

          • hitmyspot
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            2 months ago

            Exactly. It’s through the lens of society. And gaming, like other forms of mass media skirts a fine line between art and being commercial. The best art often thought provoking and commercial. The same is true in movies and music etc.

            From a business point of view, it makes sense to appeal to the most people possible. That usually meant having a cis white male protagonist, historically. However, as thearket grew, it made sense for some games to try to appeal to specific demographics. Those that were used to always having representation were upset. And continue to be so.

            Now, the consensus of that type of person is that it’s pandering, like the token black character of movies past. What they fail to realise is those that make the games are diverse too. So when they introduce characters that are different, it’s not necessarily for commercial reasons. They also forget that even if those people aren’t gay or black or Asian or female, they have family and friends that are. So their worldview can still be different.

            There was an article on Lemmy recently about Stephen King owing his success with writing Carrie and getting help with writing a female perspective. Was he pandering as it was a female protagonist, or did it work better for the social dynamics and metaphors?

            Often there is not effect in having the male character say husband, from a story or character development perspective. So, people think it’s pandering. It’s not. It’s just representing someone different , off handedly. It normalizes normal people and helps eliminate bigotry. So, even if it’s sometimes pandering, which is not often, it’s still beneficial.