Politics in video games can be a contentious thing. That’s no surprise, seeing as politics are contentious by nature. Many of us would much rather avoid them, and it’s a sentiment that comes up when players feel their escape into a fantasy realm suddenly reminds them of a real-world issue. However, it’s impossible to completely eradicate politics from our lives, even single aspects of it, and in the development of games as much as in talking about them, we’ve come to realise that.
I’d argue that this, however uncomfortable, is a good thing, even though it comes with a few caveats. Games now seem pretty intertwined with politics, but they always were. Often when we think politics, we think politicians – from discussions about game addiction, especially during the height of the WoW boom, to loot boxes and the sheer endless back-and-forth on the topic of whether or not shooters cause real-world violence, politicians have taken an interest in games whenever it became obvious that games are a large force in people’s lives.
And that is also exactly what makes politics an important aspect of games; the general awareness that many of us play them, causing video games to grow to a billion dollar industry, and the fact that when people create stories, any kind of stories, they extrapolate from human experience. Politics as a term is multifaceted and applies to any construct that aids or governs how people live with each other. Games too, even if they’re not about the French Revolution or shouting “Objection!” in a courtroom, are about the fundamental rights of and duties to people we want politics to achieve: we want to live together. What cultural products like games do is to look at why this is difficult, even if they often suggest that shooting someone in the face is a viable solution.