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United States Government Entertainment Games Politics

Area 51 To Deal With Tense Political Issues 102

Posted by Zonk
from the you-got-your-game-in-my-politics dept.
Since the days of the arcades, the Area 51 games have been brainless bughunts: find the aliens, shoot the aliens. When game designer Harvey Smith was hired a few years ago to work on the next iteration of the franchise, he began to despair at the lackluster story elements in the game. As he put it: "Area 51 just bored the sh-- out of me, and I was like, 'How can we make this interesting?'" As MTV News reports, frustrations with politics both in the United States and abroad led to a solution that required months of convincing executives to see implemented. Blacksite: Area 51 will feature a new and more poignant story, as the aliens become poor American citizens put in harm's way. "Wait, what if they are terrorists we helped create? What if the people supporting us in our fight against the terrorists aren't completely clean either? What if they're sending us after them now, but what if 10 years ago it was safe for them to create them?' ... So what we have in 'BlackSite' is a delta-force assassination squad hunting down and killing members of an Army training program. So on American soil, Americans are fighting Americans, basically." The game is intended to be enjoyed regardless of subject matter, but Smith hopes that gamers will accept a title that even touches on some of the issues that popular television shows deal with on a regular basis. What do you think about this? Is there room for politics in gaming, or do you just want to shoot stuff?
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Area 51 To Deal With Tense Political Issues

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  • by seebs (15766) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @02:47PM (#18014686) Homepage
    Fallout 2's explanation of how the holocaust happened blamed American politics. :)

    I am all for having some story to games. It's generally a plus.
  • by SalaciousPucker (911419) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @03:11PM (#18014942)

    Talking about politics without expressing any actual viewpoint is pointless. The purpose of debate is controversy. Rational arguments can & SHOULD offend people.

    It was fear of polemics that let a nation ignore debate on an issue as grand as war. It was our (corporate friendly) 'creative' people - hollywood & music industries - that were scared into avoiding any discussion/debate of the war in Iraq. The right wing martyr'ed the one country act that spoke their minds, and everyone else fell in line. Only now, when the war is well past being a lost cause, quite obviously, to even casual observers, can people stand up and question it. All that death, destruction and instability.....in an abuse of fear, wrapped in the flag, to sell the fear of polemics....of debate....of controversy.

  • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @04:22PM (#18015808) Homepage
    Oh, dear God. Careful, or you'll end up spawning a bunch of new Uncyclopedia articles. The concept of a zombie rights [uncyclopedia.org] movement has already been done.
  • in the first one you are an alien in the 50's fighting traveling across america fighting police, soldiers, and "men in black" agents called majestic. the game is full of sarcasm about how cold war americans in the "golden age" were all secretly gay, or on drugs, or worse.

    in the second one you are an alien in the 60's fighting the KGB for world domination in america, britain, japan, and russia. the game is full of jokes about cultural stereotypes.

    in both games, the governments hate you and want to destroy you, but harvest your technology and stuff to use against you and their enemies.

  • by turing_m (1030530) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @09:11PM (#18018962)
    Ultima 6 is a prime example. That fictional universe was probably a prime reason in me becoming pro-multicultural at the time. Looking back on it, the propaganda aspects are obvious.

    All these Gargoyles have invaded Britannia. You start off killing them, encouraged by your king, Lord British. Of course, part way through you discover that they are only coming through to your world because their world is falling into a void and they need you to rectify it. And they aren't evil, they in fact mean you no harm and are a very cultured and learned race. As an added bonus, you will pick up a gargoyle character who has better stats than anyone in the entire game. And of course, the only way you can finish the game is to help them out. (I'm somewhat surprised that the game didn't have you lobby Lord British to give amnesty for undocumented Gargoyles or go on a quest to get the local bards to put on a Live Aid show.)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_6 [wikipedia.org]

    As the audience in games has grown larger and recognition has dawned on people that you can buy tens to hundreds of hours of influence with a game compared to 2 hours with a movie, it's no accident that anyone with the desire to manipulate public opinion and the means to create video games decides who is cast as villain or hero in games, what the quests shall be, and what assumptions will be challenged by the protagonist in the game.

    Propaganda in art is as old as art itself. I'm not sure why this is news.

Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson

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