Schlagwort-Archive: Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands

On Political Communication in Digital Games

The following essay is based on the second part of my keynote speech at the FROG conference 2017 on October, 14th 2017 at the Wiener Rathaus. The first part „Keep your Politics out of my games!“ can be found here, as well as an impromtu reply by Tobias Winnerling. The remaining third part on political myths in games will be published subsequently.


by Eugen Pfister

Why a better Understanding of Politics in Popular Culture matters

It is true, not all video games have a conscious or an intentional political message but they communicate political aspects nonetheless. Games are not developed in aseptic laboratories under vacuum and without contact to the exterior. They are the result of their culture and society of origin. Their developers are not creating games ex nihil but are falling back on the world they know. They are – most of the time – recreating the world they are used too.  To give you a simile: just think of the „aliens“ in the Star Trek Universe. Therefore all games can be analysed for traces of a political discourse. Video games are an excellent source for ideological values and worldviews in mass media.

Classical political history traditionally focuses on political elites, on parliamentary protocols, memoirs of politicians, party programs, diplomatic correspondence, campaigning etc. This sources however represent only the political action and thoughts of a very small elite. The mass of the citizens however has to stay unheard by most of the historical researchers. If we are really interested in the popular understanding of a good government – what makes a good head of state for example – it’s not enough to analyse newspapers and TV reports or to question a sample of hundreds or even thousands on people with predetermined questionnaires. To fill this blank, this yet unanswered question of what people expect and how they understand their government, it helps to take a closer look at popular culture, and especially the so called pulp genres, like horror, science fiction, etc. On Political Communication in Digital Games weiterlesen

„Keep your Politics out of my Games!“

The following essay is based on the first part of my keynote speech at the FROG conference 2017 on October, 14th 2017 at the Wiener Rathaus. The second part on Political Communication in Video Games can be read here and the third part on Political Mythologies in Games here. The remaining third part on political myths in games will be published subsequently.


by Eugen Pfister

Games and politics

To start a discussion on games and politics was for the past decade a sure bet for at least a handful of flaming ripostes: „Keep your politics out of my games“ was one of the more polite examples. For many self-proclaimed „gamers“ games and politics appear to be two antithetical concepts. In their logic they form two independent and incompatible spheres. A contact  – or worse a blending! – of games with politics appears to be a sacrilege for many. When analysing the vocabulary of the relevant commentaries, you’ll see that political agendas in video games are understood as a sort of contamination. The „Political“ is here understood as a stain, as something corrupting the fun. This alone is indication of a fundamental political problem of our society; we will get to that later.

In the following short essay (as well as in two following texts) I will demonstrate, that on the contrary games and politics cannot be thought separately and – what is more – that the interaction of every game with politics is something natural and in fact prerequisite for every media to work. I will try to prove, that every game is the result of a very specific cultural and political environment and therefore gives evidence of very concrete world-views.

„Keep your Politics out of my Games!“ weiterlesen