Don’t think politics belong in games? Maybe your problem is a mangled understanding of what politics is. That’s the gist of a blog piece out yesterday from Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street, whom many MMO players will likely remember from his long stint as World of Warcraft’s lead systems designer, though now he’s lead game designer over on League of Legends next door.
Street was responding to a gamer worried about his belief that “Liberal politics is forcing [its] way into games.” “I just want to enjoy a fun experience, or take part of someone’s artistic vision,” the player wrote, seeking validation for his worries.
Street agreed that he would be annoyed if League of Legends “tried to sneak in lessons on how taxes should be structured, or opinions on health care, or state versus federal power” as that would be too political. But the mere presence or acknowledgement of diversity? That’s not politics, he argues — that’s reality.
“[E]xamine the game from the point of view of a player with a different set of values. Just as you may not have the same values as a bunch of game developers living and working in California USA (and again I’m just going by what you’re saying in your question), a lot of gamers out there may not have the same values as you do (or that we do for that matter). For some players (like me), it seems really weird when a game doesn’t acknowledge that the real world of other gamers or the fictional world of game characters are diverse places with different religions, genders, skin colors, and economic statuses. Having an openly gay character or punishing a player for calling another player a racial slur doesn’t feel political to me. It’s just a reflection of Earth circa 2017.”
Ultimately, he concludes, it’d be one thing if a game like LoL “start[ed] focusing too much on social messages at the expense of gameplay,” but he gently suggests to the player that it is neither fair nor healthy to “somehow wall [him]self off (in a game or anywhere) from the diversity that the world offers.”
If you gotta learn basic life lessons from a famous video game developer who used to be a marine biologist, well. At least you learned ’em.