Call me whatever you like, but please don’t blame me if I have been interested in the United Kingdom election rather than playing videogames everyday.
As a first-time voter it’s a decision that will haunt me for the next five years, so I constantly ask myself questions. But one that annoyingly worries me and possibly not worrying you, as gamers, how will new politics affect me as a gamer?
This is probably a very stupid question considering there are more important issues to consider voting for (or against); but I will be terribly annoyed if a new government, two years from now, bans me from playing video games because ‘it’s not British, and therefore it doesn’t deserve a place in our society’. This is a cowardly and stupid belief. Almost everything I have and use regularly is either American or Japanese, I don’t have a problem with that, but more to the point I don’t care. Nobody has ever criticised me for this, and using “non-British” technologies has kept me happy.
The point being: Politics is more involved in you playing videogames than you think it is.
In March of 2010, the current chancellor, Alistair Darling, said:
“I will offer help to the computer games sector, similar to the steps which are helping restore the fortunes of the British film industry...This is a highly successful and growing industry, with half its sales coming from exports, and we need to keep British talent in this country.”
In essence this means, that the Labour government would help British videogames companies by not taxing them. Famous ones such as Rockstar North (Grand Theft Auto), Lionhead (Fable), Rare (Viva Piñata, Perfect Dark, Banjo series), probably wouldn’t need it so this would just be considered as “greedy”, but this can help small companies as well. And whilst small companies may not have the reputation or PR as the companies I mentioned above, but with introduction of XNA Creators Club, Indie Games and Downloadable Games, many more small companies are making games that people, like, enjoy and think are good. How many of you have heard of RedLynx before Trials HD? Or Chair Entertainmnt before Undertow and Shadow Complex? Because I didn’t! It probably goes with my theory that “If I have never heard of it, it’s probably decent.” Which I said in response to the unnecessarily massive hype that surrounded Modern Warfare 2 and BioShock 2. Which brings me onto my next point – video game violence.
Those of you who follow video games for a long time (before Xbox 360s were invented), will possibly know about the endless back and forth debates between politicians, journalists, doctors and psychiatrists that “video games are bad for you”, and both sides of the argument had some truth to it – the most common being “depictions of violence cause aggression”. Of course the amount of times that Grand Theft Auto has been in the news because of this has promoted it’s status, and that the other franchise that Rockstar North also made, Manhunt, managed to cause worldwide controversy to the point where it was almost banned! Because of politics!
The idea of thinking that politics can influence your gaming habits, has probably more to do with censorship than anything else. So thinking more in tune to political ideologies, what if you elected the Green Party and they were very tolerant of everything, so depicting the use of marijuana and prostitution is ok, but then it will be annoying when the Xbox decides to turn itself off after an hour of use. And let’s not forget if the Conservatives hadn’t declared war on the Nazis (… Godwin’s Law) then there probably wouldn’t have been a World War Two, and the endless amount of videogames based on it. Or if Labour hadn’t gone to Iraq and Afghanistan, then “Modern Warfare” games probably wouldn’t have existed.
So while politics will have an insignificant effect on what you play, don’t forget it still has some. So if you play your videogames as much as I think you do, and have the ability to vote, then I suggest you think a little more about who you vote for, because as political history has proved, it could mean the end of us as ‘gamers’, or a new beginning.