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Research by the Entertainment Software Association shows that over 55% of video game players fall in the voting ages of 18 to 54, hence the target by politicians. Which explains why the video games industry is targeted by politicians.
Political Controversy in Video Games
Politics in video games can be such a contentious thing but this is no surprise since politics are contentious by nature. One of the games that have sparked controversy is the ‘Six Days in Fallujah’ which is set to be released before the end of the year 2021.
This game had already been canceled back in 2009 when it was being developed by Konami and was slated to be the first video game to have a direct focus on the Iraq War. Precisely, the Six Days in Fallujah is a first-person tactical military shooter game that is designed to recreate the Second Battle of Fallujah. The game highlights the joint US/UK and Iraq operations against the insurgents that happened during the Iraq War in November 2004.
The missions are based on real-life experiences from soldiers who were present during the battle. This game has raised a lot of concerns on whether it is appropriate for a video game to be based on a specific battle. Video games have the power to influence people’s emotional states, perceptions, and thought patterns. The popularity of these games has skyrocketed over the years, seeing and every year, these games generate billions of dollars. Renowned first-person shooter (FPS) games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty, and Halo sell millions of copies. This goes to show that there is a huge consumer market for such content and when a game is political, it is bound to have those in favor of the agenda and those against it.
If this game is finally released, there will be a lot to uncover about what happened. This supports the perception that video games could turn important pages in our history books. Looking back at the reason why the Iraq war happened, there will be many political questions arising. For example, should the US military have been involved at all? Without disregarding the fact that many lives were lost during this war, this game can also have a positive impact. Some people believe that it makes players want to learn more about what happened in Fallujah. This will help people remember the sacrifices that some people made.
Policy Implications of Video Games
Video games have created a space that is being scrambled by politicians to propagate their ideologies and influence the gaming audience. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez U.S Representative for New York has been at the forefront of using games to reach out to voters. She was live streaming the game ‘Among Us ‘to hundreds of thousands of citizens. While Among Us is a fairly apolitical game, the key mechanic of this game is voting, and, by extension, democracy.
The Pentagon understands the power of video games, as well, and has used it for the last two decades to increase the enrollment of young people to join the army. One of the most renowned strategies was the launch of the FPS game ‘America’s Amy’, in 2002 to persuade the young population to join the military. The army in the game is portrayed as neutral and apolitical and did not depict the hardships faced in the military and the massacres during combat. This went a long way in shaping the mindset and beliefs the players had about the military and led to a massive recruitment.
Games tell us a lot about how the world operates and works. They are a reflection of society in the virtual world. They also play an important role in the shaping of the perceptions and attitudes people have on systems and governments, which is a foundation of modern civilization.