I don’t really know what to say about these weirdos. All they are really interested in is talking politics. Video games just get in the way.
Imagine releasing a game, right now, about shooting extremists on the streets of Washington D.C. and then saying, with a straight face, that the backdrop of America’s capital was just a fun setting to play around with in a videogame. Imagine ending a game trailer in 2021 with the line “So, game plan: Take the Capitol back?” as a paramilitary squad geared up with tactical vests, assault rifles and grenade launchers charge a heavily fortified Capitol Building, American flag still flying over the gate.
We all know exactly what real-world events that scene would evoke today—but it was still ridiculous in 2018 when The Division 2 debuted at E3 and creative director Terry Spier said “we’re definitely not making any political statements.” His next line in that interview is the one that really gets me, now: “This is still a work of fiction, right?”
In 2021, that excuse is going to be pretty hard to get away with.
Games will still try to worm their way out of acknowledging the real-world politics that they draw inspiration from, but it’s going to be more embarrassing than ever to watch them try. Modern warfare is the bread and butter of triple-A videogames, so much so that Call of Duty went a little into the future, and then infinitely into the future, and then came back to modern warfare in the span of a decade. Games want to play with familiar weaponry—we all know the terrorists use AKs—and familiar surroundings, because they make for widely relatable drama. Disaster movies have pulled the same trick for decades, showing us famous landmarks falling to earthquakes or geostorms.