Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

18 January, 2008

Change? In politics?
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:23 PM

I’m going to make a post that’s a bit out-of-character for this blog: it’s about U.S. politics. Now, I usually avoid this subject to avoid turning this into a political blog sometimes about games. But, this is related to a topic I feel strongly about.

So, given that one of the major buzzwords in this election season is “change”, what does that really mean?

Honestly? Not much. Given most politician’s willingness to take cheap shots at video games to score some easy points with fretting parents, I’m not terribly optimistic. How much “change” do you think a politician would support if he or she said, “And I’m against these violent and racy movies (or comic books, or rock music, or books) that are harming our children!” Yet, you have politicians saying just that about video games.

By now we’ve accepted that the “dangerous media” of the previous generations was over-sensationalized (or tamed and neutered, depending on your outlook), so the real measurement is how the politicians view new media. Video games are the threat du jour, and I think the real measurement is how much the candidate really does embrace change as an overwhelming theme. But, most politicians see no gain in supporting games. They even ignore the fact that most laws trying to restrict this type of content have been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. courts, at least in recent times.

Unfortunately, U.S. politics has degenerated into simply pandering to whatever group the candidate hopes will vote in the largest numbers. Even Obama (the original “Mr. Change” of this campaign season) has made some typical politician comments about games. A proclamation in support of games would upset some voters, particularly the fretful motherly types that the pundits say Obama needs to appeal to. Of course, one could point to this fear of games being a problem with society as a whole that wants to look for a scapegoat for all the ills that plague every generation. “Something must be making my otherwise angelic children into monsters. I blame the newest form of media!”

Anyway, something for game fans to think about in this political season.


  1. You know, Brian, as I seem to get accosted in airports far too often and airports are heavily populated by men…

    And they always ask why I’m there…

    And I’m not bright enough to say, “heading out for leprosy treatments…”

    I can say, with certainty, that the people I’ve met (in airports) that are the least understanding about games and their influence are 40-something men. The ones who have 20-something or younger sons and they can’t relate to them now.

    They’re the ones that see “games as a killing simulator” or as a “social isolator”. Moms? They usually think what I do is fascinating and ask me what games are “more” appropriate to their kids.

    I think the pundits are wrong about who the target of the commentary is – it’s not soccer moms, it’s disenfranchised dads.

    Comment by Ophelea — 18 January, 2008 @ 5:27 PM

  2. It’s fun to think about, but how much does it really affect how we vote? Especially since all the major candidates are quick to point a finger at new media.

    Comment by Trin — 18 January, 2008 @ 9:07 PM

  3. Ophelea wrote:
    I think the pundits are wrong about who the target of the commentary is – it’s not soccer moms, it’s disenfranchised dads.

    Well, one of the most notorious people who lashed out against gamer-related new media was Patricia Pulling, who went on a crusade against Dungeons & Dragons when her son committed suicide. I think there are few people that are truly against games for the most part; however, if some tragedy happens with their kids, then the media has conditioned people to blame games first. Also keep in mind that people who are rich enough to fly tend not to be the most closed-minded.

    Trin wrote:
    It’s fun to think about, but how much does it really affect how we vote?

    The goal here isn’t to get people depressed about politics (that’s easy to do without reading my blog), but rather to point out that all this talk of “change” is pretty shallow. It doesn’t matter if the politicians are slamming games because of personally-held beliefs or because that’s what the pollsters say the current attitudes about games are in the voting public; there’s an element of (small-”c”) conservatism in the undercurrent of the discussions. There are still a lot of other issues to consider when voting as well.

    Comment by Psychochild — 19 January, 2008 @ 12:33 PM

  4. Considering the glorification American politicians lather onto the military and the mass killing of innocents for whatever bullshit reason they’ve cooked up to fool people into thinking those things are anything but despicable tools of imperialism by an oligarchy with nobody’s interests at heart but their own, I’d be tempted to call some politicians fucking hypocrites on this one if they weren’t so far down that path already that one could wonder if any stance they hold is based on actual personal opinion.

    You’ll have to begrudgingly spare the politicians your wrath on this particular issue and look toward the fretting hens you mentioned, because despite the fact that the politicians are the ones spewing bullshit like Linda Blair in The Exorcist, these are the people are eating it up and regurgitating it on command without thinking. The only line of logic they can follow is about as long as the distance between their eyes and the tip of their nose, and the most sinful part of that problem is that it’s brought about by mass laziness and apathy.

    So when someone is trying to get elected, or trying to make people feel like they at least have a viable candidate for election and are affecting the system somehow (where’s my little Democrat flag), don’t be too surprised when they pander to the people who are too lazy to actually connect any dots after they’ve put their pencil on the first one. Because that’s the majority. And I’d say something snarky like “And capturing the vote of the majority is how you get elected.”, but we all know that isn’t really true.

    Comment by Azaroth — 19 January, 2008 @ 7:48 PM

  5. Yeah, this is an area where we can be bipartisan. Both major parties SUCK at gaming topics. It’s quite a shame.

    Comment by Brent Michael Krupp — 23 January, 2008 @ 9:45 AM

  6. The trend continues:

    We know that every father has a personal responsibility to do right by their kids – to encourage them to turn off the video games and pick up a book; to teach them the difference between right and wrong; to show them through our own example the value in treating one another as we wish to be treated. And most of all, to play an active and engaged role in their lives.

    (Emphasis added.)

    So much biting irony in that little paragraph, but I’ll let that go for now.

    Comment by Psychochild — 20 June, 2011 @ 11:07 PM

  7. Wasn’t candidate Obama the first to campaign *inside* of games? Some EA hockey game billboards or some such, if memory serves.

    I’d ignore the hypocricy and idiocy in politicians… if they didn’t have so much power to really screw over the rest of us.

    Comment by Tesh — 22 June, 2011 @ 7:24 AM

  8. Games are protected expression!

    [...] course, just last weekend President Obama was criticizing video games in an off-handed comment while the courts were deciding on the issue. But, this shows that there is still a lot of thought [...]

    Pingback by Psychochild's Blog — 9 July, 2011 @ 1:27 PM

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