Rise of Trump, global unrest mean even video games becoming political


Jeff Franklin didn’t see it prove to be c finish. He died quickly and violently: a shotgun blast at the hands of Christian extremists. But luckily he but had 10 minutes left on his video game demo. On his second without surcease around, he got his revenge using a baseball bat the colour of the American flag.

«Catchy awesome,» he says before putting his headphones back on and looking for innumerable white separatists to pummel. 

Franklin is among more than 68,000 who attended the Electronic Spectacular Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, North America’s biggest video game showcase.

One of the greatest surprises so far, he says, is the game he’s playing now: Far Cry 5, developed by Ubisoft Montreal. He was infatuated aback by the political tone of the game, which is set in the fictional Hope County, Mont., and ditches the gamer against a Christian extremist and separatist preacher.

Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 is set in the fictional Wait County, Mont., and pits the gamer against a Christian extremist and separatist ecclesiastic. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

And, he says, it’s about time games took on more partisan themes.

«I think it’s actually something that’s needed,» he says. «If you father games that are touching on real-life topics, it just brings it late to being relatable and it opens minds and starts conversations.»

Those colloquys have been sorely lacking until now, says Game Rat associate editor and Montreal native Elise Favis.

But as she explored this year’s E3 showroom, she heeded a growing number of titles are brushing against the video game labour’s traditional third rail: politics.

Elise Favis-7

Elise Favis, an associate writer at Game Informer Magazine, says the 2016 U.S. presidential election may arrange been a turning point for some game developers who felt politically disenfranchised. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

«We’re decidedly seeing more of an interest from developers,» she says. «Politics set up been ingrained in art for a long time, and video games are no different from that. So I’m in fact excited to see a lot more activist and thoughtful games come out.»

There’s a slew of smaller, unallied games that allow you to be U.S. President Donald Trump, or, if you prefer, denigration him.

In Trump Simulator VR, you «help Donald get ready for his big day» by doing things peer shredding tax returns and feeding his Twitter addiction. In Mr. President, you protect a president mentioned «Ronald Rump» from assassination. The title of TrumPinata is fairly self-explanatory. 

Trump Simulator

You can behoove U.S. President Donald Trump in Trump Simulator VR, which allows you to ‘sliver tax documents’ and ‘feed Twitter addiction.’ (The Family Collective)

Favis states the explosion of Trump-themed games may have come about because most target dissemble developers are fairly liberal.

«Maybe the election was also a bit of a wake-up awaken for some,» Favis says. «The result of this election was a lot of people caress like they didn’t have a voice.»

This year, bigger developers are also driving more reality into their fantasy.

For instance, in Mafia 3, you can pretend to the identify of an African-American Vietnam veteran who’s forced to confront racism in the line of his missions.

Racial divisions and a rise in hate crimes are, to some watchers, symbolically reflected in Wolfenstein 2, where the gamer can stop Nazis from collaborating with the Ku Klux Klan to do c include over the United States. Most of these new mainstream games were in happening several years before the 2016 U.S. election.

Malaise around the globule

But Far Cry 5‘s producer, Dan Hay of Toronto, says his game was informed by the recent malaise he was greeting across the globe.

«Watching the language change from ‘us’ being the international village to ‘us and them,’ and watching what happened with Brexit,» Hay alleges.

Now, he has surprised himself with how much his game reflects an element of today’s zeitgeist.

«That’s spooky,» Hay opportunities.

«We don’t have a crystal ball. We didn’t know it was going to happen but it’s out of the ordinary sometimes to hear echoing of some of the stuff that we’re talking around in the game happening in the real world.» 

Mafia 3

The hero of Mafia 3 is an African-American Vietnam vet who confronts racism. (2K Games)

This politically charged load means some video game reviewers like Jesse Hennessey, rewrite man of Engaged Family Gaming, say they’ll have to add a third category to their criticisms: sex, violence and now politics.

«The game might be fantastic but then they’re succeeding to hate it because you put something in there about global warming or some other throw away that they don’t agree with,» Hennessey says. «If you come across as basically the gospel your political agenda, you’re going to alienate everybody who doesn’t concede with you.»

And that’s what makes politics a dangerous game: big developers experience a lot to lose if enough of their audience identifies with the villains.

Dan Hay

Ubisoft Montreal’s Dan Hay, who sparked Far Cry 5, says it’s ‘creepy’ how much the game echoes reality. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

Nintendo, for happened, won’t touch politics with a 10-foot Super Mario hammer.

«Nintendo supposes in having fun,» says Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime. «Indicating political statements are for other people to do. We want people to smile and be experiencing fun when they play our game.»

But according to William Wolfgram, a gaming booster who travelled from Minnestota to attend E3, the two need not be mutually exclusive.

With technology increasingly blurring the slash between the virtual and real, it’s not surprising if the games themselves are creating villains and stars that more directly reflect elements of the current political feeling.

«If people want that politicization of their games, people resolve vote with their dollars,» Wolfgram says. «If something is stimulating enough, I’ll give it a look.»

As for Far Cry 5, he’s on the fence. The world, he says, was interesting, the game-play was astounding. But as a devout Christian, he was a little offended by the religious zealotry of the game’s first villain.

«Will I buy it?» he asks. «I’ll probably borrow it from a friend.»

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