The world today is a complicated place. With social media and nearly unlimited access to various forms of videos, images, articles and other media, its almost impossible to go a single day without seeing something political. And as of late it seems to be all we see on our timelines. But should politics have a place in the gaming industry as well?
With the unfortunate death of George Floyd, an African American man killed by the senseless actions of a Minneapolis police officer, the United States and even other parts of the world have been hurled into a whirlwind political opinions. Sparking debates on matters such as racial tension, police brutality, and what constitutes quality leadership.
George Floyd’s death acted as a catalyst for a fed up community whose patience had grown increasingly thin. Understandably so. Countless other African Americans have been wrongfully killed for years with little to no justice served.
Making a statement
In response to protests across the nation, many companies in the video game industry publicly conveyed their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Companies such as Activision, Sony, EA, CD Projekt RED, and others cancelled or postponed events and released statements in a public expression of acknowledgement for the BLM movement and the injustices faced by the African American community.
While many have praised the responses by these companies, others have said that the video game industry isn’t the place for politics. We at Game Enthusiast debated this dilemma and came up with a few reasons why there should and shouldn’t be politics involved in the games industry.
Why politics SHOULD have a place in gaming
In today’s world, and more specifically today’s culture, most people freely voice their opinions. Whether its on social media, with coworkers, friends, or family, most of us have to right to express how we feel freely. We live in one of the safest times in history to be able to speak our minds. And for the exception of a few archaic holdouts in the world, almost everyone is allowed to voice their opinion. And many do voice their opinion on the turbulent political climate in the US and around the globe.
So why should the gaming industry be any different? After all, video games are just another form of entertainment. We don’t get worked up when a movie, a studio, or actors voice their political views. Movies and television are inherently political. So why should video games be any different? From a broader perspective, video games are even a form of art. And to limit that expression to everything but politics is inherently contradicting the nature of artistic expression as a whole.
Gamers can’t sit and pretend that political, social or racial turmoil isn’t happening. We can’t just ignore the problems and shut out reality completely. Things like racism are real, and if you’ve ever played a Call of Duty with the game chat on for more than an hour, you know that to be true. I’m not claiming to have the answers to these problems, but I do know that ignoring them and willfully looking the other way won’t solve anything.
Why politics SHOULD NOT have a place in gaming
On the other hand, maybe games should be an exception to that ‘rule’. Maybe we should just be able to enjoy them as a form of escapism. I know I did, because when I was growing up, I didn’t have many friends. I found it hard to fit in. It was hard for me to feel like I related to the other kids around me. I wasn’t especially passionate about sports, or cars like the other boys in my class.
The first time that I felt like I had found something I was truly passionate about was playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with my cousin on his SNES. I was totally hooked. I could control the characters that I had seen on TV in cartoons. I became the characters. Even if only through the TV screen.
And I know I’m not the only one. Many people find an escape in video games. And while maybe it’s not the healthiest of habits to escape the real world at all, I often think about what my life would be like if I didn’t pursue my interests in video games.
Gaming has offered a shield for people from the outside world for decades. The video game world has allowed people to have a safe haven away from the troubles of the world. A hideout far from the negativity, the angst…the political turmoil.
When politics spills over into that safe haven, many feel like the one place that they can go to, just to temporarily get away from all of that is tainted. And maybe a safe space away from all of the negativity is a good thing. As long as that escape isn’t willful blindness.
Does politics have a place in gaming? I don’t know what the right answer is. But one thing I know for sure. There’s a lot of problems in the world today. A lot of hurt, a lot of confusion, a lot of negativity in general. And how I see it, we are in a pivotal time in history. We can’t hide from these problems and just hope that they’ll go away. Or just expect other people to fix it for us.
But maybe hiding away from time to time to escape the hurricane of opinions and emotions isn’t such a bad thing after all. Either way, it is up to us as gamer’s, citizens, and human beings to ask ourselves: Are we part of the problem? Or are we part of the solution? Or are we part of neither from time to time, and it that a bad thing?
Join the discussion in the comments below, or through our awesome Facebook Community. But please, for the love of gaming, keep it civilized!
Image credit: Tom Clancy’s The Division 2