Title image via Samurai Punk’s Press Release
I’m a video game nerd. Yes I said it. I spend a fair amount of time playing video games because they are a relaxing escape from reality when I’m stressed out or had a long day. However with recent pushes to make video games into an “artform” comes an unwelcome addition.
Stop Trying To Politicize Games
Invaratibly those politics are decidedly Left leaning. Enter The American Dream. A satirical look at 1950’s American culture. American Dream tries to ask the question, why are video games “obsessed” with guns? To quote Nicholas McDonnell who’s behind the studio developing the game, Samurai Punk.
“[The American Dream] came from this conflicted relationship that me and my team have with firearms and guns in video games,” says McDonnell. “…I was starting to get really confused about the majority of what I play and what I enjoy.”
If we take a look at game design we find that tests of speed, skill, and accuracy are the most enjoyable, and representing firearms in some form or another lends itself well to this. The shooter genre is incredibly popular for this very reason. However it’s not even shooters that have risen to the top of the recent eSports craze, but far more tactical games that combine teamwork, quick reflexes, and accuracy. League of Legends is arguably the biggest eSports game out there, and it does not center around using guns to shoot people.
So when aspiring pundits cry about “current year”, and as “are guns in video games holding the medium back?”, my response is no. Guns are not holding the medium back, your attempts to politicize and over analyze what people enjoy is holding the medium back.
Video games can have compelling and thoughtful narratives that are artful and tell amazing stories, on par with movies and novels. However they must, first and foremost, be fun. They are games after all.
Missing the Mark
While I appreciate satire, even satire directed at things I like, if you are going to satirize gun culture understand it first. What strikes me about the Australian made game, The American Dream, is that it does not understand gun culture in the US well enough to properly satirise it. It strikes me as a game made by people who are trying to satirize an idealized version of the 1950’s that never existed in the first place. If you are going to critique something, understand it first and this is something that hoplophobes don’t bother to do.