Gaming and its politics.
Video games, like many other things, are political and constitute a very important part of nowadays’ technological reality. Taking decisions, organizing empires, building new worlds and conquering adventures are thus a significant reflection of the politics implied in all the enormous variety of games out there. The thing is that this reflection upon our cultural values and political ideas goes almost always unperceived or ignored letting some people view video games as either some sort of new utopia or as dangerous threat hanging above our future generations. As briefly discussed by Toby Miller in his article “Gaming for beginners” what we found in games is not the only thing reflecting its politics but also the way in which the consumers of these games are perceived in relationship with them.
A good example of this relationship could perhaps be explored trough the game “To Build a Better Mousetrap” which is basically a game about succeeding in business through the effective exploitation of workers and their laboral needs. This game places the user in a position of power where the political implications in relation to economic ideologies are very clear. Yet, instead of focusing on the game itself we can create an analogy in relation to what Miller says in his article. In this sense, the audiences conceived as “empirical entities”(6) could be then understood as the mouses and the big institutions the business owner.
This relation within and outside the game becomes those a framework in which the “Consumption mantra”(8) addressed by Miller as key to understand the antagonistic connotation that tends to be given not only to video games but to cultural-studies themselves. In this framework we therefore “expect individually tailored, boutique capitalism”(8) as quoted from Postrel by Miller. We the consumers are then trapped in giant an very complex mousetrap in which we are constantly being reconditioned by the same medium in different ways. On one hand we get to explore the marvelous relationship of building politically correct (or at least trying) realities in games like the one mentioned before or many others, and on the other hand being sold products hidden in some games content like coca cola or other stuff.
In other words, as Miller highlights his personal concerns about the powerful weight of certain institutions upon the game world it’s really important to understand how politically implied the users of this medium are even if they are fully aware of the ideological content presented in the game itself or not.