• @jjjalljs
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    42 months ago

    Please, elaborate.

    • @Mic_Check_One_Two@reddthat.com
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      132 months ago

      There’s a huge difference between a game featuring politics as a sandbox for players to play around with, and featuring political themes as a main story driver.

      Civ is a good example of the former; It has politics present in the game, but the politics aren’t presented in a hero/villain way. They’re presented as potential advantages for the player, potential disadvantages for opponents, etc, but the actual policies themselves aren’t central to the system.

      The game pulls from historical political systems as a way to present them to the player, but it could just as easily forego that and call the system some made up word besides “political systems”. Because the politics and policies aren’t actually important to the gameplay; All that matters to the player is what potential benefits and drawbacks they provide. You don’t actually care if a particular civ is “democratic” or “totalitarian”, because those titles could just as easily be replaced with “A” and “B”. The only thing that matters to the player is how that particular civ’s political affiliation will affect their actions.

      But if a game heavily features political themes and messages as part of a plot line, then it’s not something the player can avoid or ignore. If it’s central to the story, one side (likely the side helping the player) is inevitably going to be presented as the hero, and another side (likely the side working against the player) is going to be presented as a villain. Final Fantasy X, for instance, is a good example of the latter. It heavily features anti-religion themes and messages. It’s impossible to play through the game without receiving “religion bad” messaging, because they’re central to the game’s plot line, with religious leaders as the main villains. We can draw direct parallels to real-world examples. And if you’re someone who is religious, those parallels may make you deeply uncomfortable, because religion is being portrayed negatively no matter how you play the game.

    • @stevestevesteve@lemmy.world
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      2 months ago

      Carrying a definite political message is not the same as being a relatively message less environment that has politics as a mechanic.

      “Political” games as mentioned by OP carry a message - e.g. who the “good guys” are (the rebels in Star wars are considered the good guys, and authoritarianism is shown as bad). In Civilization games, does it have a storyline that has an equivalent political statement? Or does it serve to let you make whatever statement you want as a sort of sandbox?

      I honestly don’t know the story of Civ, but hopefully that demonstrates the difference between something that could be “Politics: the game” (a “politics simulator”) and something that carries a political statement

      • @jjjalljs
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        02 months ago

        The argument ive been trying to make here (probably badly because I’m tired and not a great persuader even when at full power) is that all games have political messages, then if they’re not literally about government.

        Civ is kind of a sandbox, but to reuse an example I already posted, saying “if you kill everyone else, you win!” is a political statement.

        • @stevestevesteve@lemmy.world
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          12 months ago

          There are many win conditions in Civ, so it having “killing everyone else is winning” as a political statement would be a very weak argument imho

          • @jjjalljs
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            02 months ago

            “genocide is good and a valid way to win” is pretty fucked up, if you think about it. So is “obliterate their culture”.

            You could also have a civ game where you lose if things get to the point of genocide, or the world devolves into a monoculture.

    • @AdmiralShat@programming.dev
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      2 months ago

      Many games have definite traits of political ideas being the themes or undertones. These may be criticisms of major political ideologies or of systems of government, or they may remark on other specific topics.

      Anotjer facet, some games are accused or having an “agenda” or something, such as the games that people screech about when they have gay characters. This is usually what dipshits mean when they say a game is being political. To be fair, yes, some games definitely feel like that, which is just poor writing of dialouge and the delivery of themes, imo.

      Civilization is a game that features politics as a gameplay mechanic. As mentioned by another user, this game still does have politics, as saying Mt Rushmore was a buildable structure granted by running Facism as your form of government, however it also has Ghandi using nuclear weapons so I don’t really read too much into it as a “political statement”

      To summarize my point, Civ is a game about simulating politics, you can be a theocracy or a democracy or a fascist state and swap between them all at will pr mix and match, but it’s not really the goal of the game to push any specific ideas on political issues. It’s a sandbox game, so my point was that it was a poor example compared to story driven games where the protagonists or antagonists have a political tilt that’s either presented as good or bad. Not that civ has no political ideas and a tilt, but that its not a super great example when the specific example in the game are mostly jokes anyways.

      • @jjjalljs
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        22 months ago

        I will try to come back later and do a fuller reply, as I didn’t expect so many lengthy replies to my request for elaboration.

        One of the things I don’t think people really touched on here is that there’s political like big and in the foreground text, and there’s political in other ways.

        For an example, what are the win conditions in civilization? Using military forces to annihilate everyone else is a win condition. That is a political statement.

        The game could also say you lose if civilian deaths cross a certain threshold. I don’t think it even models that. What the game choses to model and reward are part of the “text”, and when doing a critical read should be considered.

        The stuff about “oh you can be a democracy or autocracy” is political in its own way, but that’s only one dimension of the subject. There’s more to it.

    • @hitmyspot@aussie.zone
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      12 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
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        32 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@aussie.zone
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          12 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
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            22 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@aussie.zone
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              22 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.