Ubisoft claims that it ‘cannot be openly political’ in The Division

    
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oh, wait, you're serious

Gosh, this is one heck of a sentiment. Ubisoft’s COO, Alf Condelius, recently spoke at the Sweden Game Conference and claimed that it could not and would not be openly political in The Division. That was a statement made. The game specifically cited was The Division, not The Division 2, so while we’re certain that you can’t insert politics into a game about the US government forming a paramilitary strikeforce in quarantined Manhattan after a disease outbreak, perhaps you can insert them into a game about the same thing taking place in Washington, DC.

You know, the current capital of the United States of America, instead of the former capital. (Very briefly, to be fair.)

Condelius went on to state that players are allowed to have their own interpretations, which is entirely appropriate in a title that is, again, about agents of Homeland Security taking over as a military strikeforce in a quarantine zone and re-establishing order. Thank goodness there are no politics in these stories, just like how we’re all happier when we don’t get politics in our stories about government-made supersoldiers.

Source: GamesIndustry.biz and this miserable hell timeline we find ourselves in

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camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Last game that didn’t have politics in it.

pong.gif
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rafael12104

Speaking as a Pong survivor, I vehemently disagree. This is the game that started it all. The toxicity and addiction both started with Pong. The government did nothing, the bowling alleys profiteered and said nothing.

It encouraged discrimination against kids, the controls were hard to get to for toddlers. And it fostered an environment in which stealing a quarter out your mom’s purse was acceptable as long as you gave her that “I’m sorry but I’m cute and innocent” look.

Oh yes… I survived Pong, but only to move on to the stronger stuff, Space Invaders. And, now look at me!

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Pacman made me question capitalism.

Always consuming, never satisfied, only happy eating others.

It made me the socialist, baby-eating atheist I am today and I can’t go back now.

Not now.

Not after how I have voted.

Curse you Pacman!

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rafael12104

Lol!!!

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Greaterdivinity

Actually, it’s overtly political! It creates a situation in which there is a binary conflict, presenting a hostile and adversarial view of the world with opposing ends necessarily fighting for their survival. Such a world view precludes peaceful coexistence, dialogue, or progressive values and only serves to reinforce a regressive, authoritarian and hostile worldview. It will frame how children view the world growing up, driving them away from cooperation and peace and towards hostile isolationism as they will view others as opponents rather than potential allies.

EXCUSE ME I HAVE A DOCTORAL DISSERTATION TO WRITE ABOUT THE DEEP POLITICAL UNDERTONES OF THE VIDEOGAME KNOWN AS “PONG” NOW. I SHALL BE AWAITING MY NOBEL PRIZE.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

.

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rafael12104

LOL! Nicely done.

Ah, yes. I bet there are several candidates writing their dissertations on just that. And, I’m not kidding. Heh.

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McGuffn

Who do you want to win, left or right?

MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

What if…I am the ball?

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McGuffn

swing voter?

Edit: “political football” is probably more apt.

MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

Super Pong was safe too! Man, still miffed someone stole my my Super Pong console =(

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rafael12104

Someone stole my Pacman portable. I haven’t been the same since.

True story. Lol!

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Franklin Adams

You’ve never listened to The Vandals “Join us for Pong”. They talk about fighting CIA mind control via Pong.

“Don’t be fooled by world Peace and an economy that’s stable/the CIA’s just got more time to watch you through your cable/they would control you and take away your brain/you can defeat them if you switch your box over to game/do what’s right to you/not what they tell you to/you can fight/we meet tonight/So join us for Pong!

It’s up to you to improve your hand eye coordination/Or become a mindless servant unwitting puppet of the nation/they know your address/they send you the bills/they decide if you watch Tyson/Don’t that give you the chills?/So shake off your shackles some/We’ve only just begun/there’s just two speeds/it’s what you need/So join us for Pong!”

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Peregrine Falcon

Good. I for one am sick of people in entertainment trying to shove their politics at me.

The more you try to shove your politics at me the more I’m going to refuse to give you my money.

flyingltj
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flyingltj

Politics in gaming? Has everyone forgotten about 1993’s Shadow President already? If I can’t give favored trading status to Vietnam, invade Japan, and nuke The Bahamas… then how is it exactly politics in gaming?

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Tiresias

Let’s face it: the politics (and implications) of The Division are really, REALLY disturbing.

I know, I know: video game. Tom Clancy video game at that. All the Tom Clancy stuff is pretty much military worship-laden, “Good Guy with a Gun”, American Badass power fantasies. Just… put that all aside for the moment.

Consider the message of The Division: that America has sleeper agents everywhere — highly trained military operatives who lead completely normal lives but in fact are just waiting for the call-up, at which point they immediately abandon everything, turn off their humanity, and head to a disaster area for the specific purpose of employing lethal force against other American citizens.

In other words, the American government has prepared for a tactically asymmetrical INCONUS (INside the CONtinental United States) CBR (Chemical, Biological, Radiological) attack that results in the complete dissolution of law and order by making advanced plans to send in unsupervised sleeper agents to carry out summary executions against anyone found disturbing the peace.

Not mobilize the National Guard.
Not employ the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force.
Not leverage law enforcement outfits in nearby precincts.

There are a great many political messages at work there, such as:

1. Due to government incompetence, a force like The Division is necessary.
2. Summary execution of American citizens is fine in certain situations.
3. Firearms are sufficient tools to resolve many of the problems of a disaster area.
4. American citizens will regress to their most basic and violent natures in the face of a serious terrorist attack.

There’s a lot more to unpack, but I’ll admit that I personally enjoyed The Division while simultaneously feeling a little icky about the overall themes of the game.

I have a good reason for that as well: I was an officer in the Navy, and my first tour was as the Strike Warfare Officer onboard a guided missile destroyer. In other words, I was the missiles officer on a ship whose primary mission was to launch missiles. That job was every bit as fun as it sounds to a 21-year old Naval Academy graduate.

Without going into “classified information” territory, I can say something that everyone likely already knows: I had firing solutions for pretty much every single major city in the world that my missiles could reach (which is to say: almost everywhere). And when I say “everywhere” I mean EVERYWHERE.

I still get chills thinking about the day when I realized that I held in my hands the power to end lives in almost every city on Earth with the literal push of a button.

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Mr Poolaty

This a thousand times!!

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Jack Pipsam

Ubisoft being scared to make a statement on anything hurt the narrative of Farcry 5 a bit. It’s obvious what they wanted to say about the United States and Christianity in that game, they built all the setup for it, but didn’t quite have the guts to cross the finish line.
The result was a strange half/half mishmash.

Don’t be gutless, if you want to say something, say something. If not, then don’t dance around the bush, go do something else.

Perhaps this is an issue of a Swedish studio being strongarmed into having to make a game set in the United States, but really, this feels like them dancing around and that’s never going to be interesting.

arimer
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arimer

I think there’s a difference in a game being political and a game pushing the creators politics. Like sure Division touches on politics butt hey fit into the world it’s in. The lore so to speak. Its not trying to take a position on our politics but it is political.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Sorry Eliot I don’t get it. Sometimes sarcasm is hard to read in print. Are you saying it’s silly to not have politics in such things and we should? Or that it’s impossible not to? Something else like you’re being straight and actually saying thank goodness we don’t have politics in them? (It doesn’t seem that it could be that last thing but again it’s hard to tell in print).

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Sorry Mewmew – Yep, he was being sarcastic and making the point that it’s not actually possible to delete politics from art at all but especially art that is literally about political situations, places, and themes. (The Onion piece he linked is pretty funny too. :D)

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Danny Smith

Honestly thank fuck. When you don’t live in America the die hard coke vs pepsi binary tribalism being forced into so much shit is insufferable i can’t imagine how bad it is for people that have that outside their doors everyday and want to come home to relax only to find it waiting for them, telling them to buckle up and take notes or be kicked out of the respective clubhouse its pushing. Yeah issues need to be talked about but it seems like theres so many game devs and comic writers that feel the world needs their opinion to figure it all out like a tween discovering blogger for the first time without the writing chops to do so.

I can take a political story but without the writer inserting their “FFFFFUCKING DRUMPPHHHH” or “FUUUCCCKING SHILLARY” bullshit in it. I remember trying the FFXV DLC like a year ago and the english dub straight up says the evil empire is using “fake news” and my eyes rolled so fast my doctor says i may have a detached cornea now.

A lot of it seems to come from writers without the skill and nuance to tell a political story that confuse soapboxing for allegory. If i want to see a political story as a consumer i want intrigue, suspense and subterfuge. Not “THIS IS MY BLOG, SENT FROM MY IPHONE #RESIST/#RACEWARNOW” bullshit like the writing was replaced by assholes on twitter.

I just wish more young creatives could realise that those are not the same thing. Maybe with time and experience i guess.

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Crowe

I’m sorry, I can’t read anything further after your coke v pepsi analogy. Coke is obviously the much superior party. I mean, have you even *tried* Diet Pepsi? /shudder

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rafael12104

LOL! Ah, but there was that New Coke era. #shuddersevenmore

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McGuffn

I get what you’re saying but it is belied by the picture of the capital building in Washington DC. Maybe the American flag without the stars is supposed to make it generic and appealing to a world wide audience? (It isn’t America, their flag has stars in it, this is totally different!!!)

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Schmidt.Capela

“Fake News” is just a modern label for something ancient. Hitler actually explained in his famous book “Mein Kampf” how to use fake news (which he called “the big lie”) to fight political opponents, and Goebbels took those ideas to heart when leading the Nazi propaganda machine. This is how the US Office of Strategic Services described Hitler back then:

His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

Incidentally, while spreading falsehoods Hitler often blamed his opponents themselves of using “the big lie”. IMHO learning how to detect and see through such an act should be taught at school, to reduce the chances of people using similar tactics from attaining positions of power.

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Jack Kerras

Something ancient: a motherfucking dangerous memetic virus that we need to use as little as possible and make zero fucking jokes about, ever.

That shit is virulent and it cannot be understood as parody by vulnerable parties.

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rafael12104

Quite right! I keep telling people that!

The first thing you do to control the masses is to take over the dominant media outlets. Undermining a free press is one step closer to that end.

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McGuffn

In case you missed it, Ubisoft clearly doesnt know what it is doing: https://www.pcgamer.com/ubisofts-games-are-actually-political-says-ceo/

Rabbit season! Duck season!

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Bannex

Good thing the CEO had to come and spell out what the COO meant for people that struggle with comprehension.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

I mean, if we’re going to talk reading comprehension, that article is from June. The CEO wasn’t clarifying the COO; the COO’s statements hadn’t even been made yet.

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Arktouros

If you read the original article the original guy when asked about the Avatar game, and Avatar being basically one giant political statement, he admits that the settings for the game are political. The distinction they try to make is they’re trying to not say, “BECAUSE OF SOMETHING THIS IS HOW THE FUTURE WORLD YOU WILL ONE DAY LIVE IN.” despite that’s what players are trying to interpret.

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McGuffn

That’s a distinction without a difference. They’re trying to have their cake and eat it too. They want all the benefits of being political (cutting edge! excitement! realistic setting!) without any of the drawbacks (polarization and people not wanting to play their game).

As an example of the bullshit they’re spewing, take this succinct statement: “It’s a universe and a world that we created for people to explore how to be a good person in a slowly decaying world.”

That’s an apt description of several games, such as, oh, This War of Mine. Which is clearly political, to the point that they donate to a charity for war victims.

Ubisoft’s approach is similar, but to lie about it, keep the money for themselves and not actually help people.

So if they want to wave their hands frantically and say that their games about environmentalism and colonialism or whatever the next Avatar is about is not political, or the latest corrupt government stoking a civil war Tom Clancy game isn’t political, they can go for it with gusto and my opinion of them will steadily drop.

Just admit what you obviously are Ubisoft, it isn’t all that hard.

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kgptzac

People don’t know what they are doing or what they are saying is very politically realistic to me, so I’ll give them that. I agree more with the CEO for being politically neutral is better… and I don’t understand why the COO thinks “we’re going to destroy the world if we continue what we are doing” is a political, even leaving out the qualifications on what exactly “we are doing”.

So yes, I don’t mind they keep saying things contradict themselves as long as their games don’t insert themselves into more controversial parts of politics, in which I agree with the man in the Onion news, that I need not in my escapist entertainment.

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BalsBigBrother

I shoot the pixels, watch the splosions and take pretty screenshots. Yeah that may seem simple minded and is probably missing the point of a lot of the games /shrugs. I am bombarded with all that stuff in my work life and elsewhere so you will have to excuse me if I decide to put on the blinkers a little bit during my free time.

You all are free to read whatever motivations into whatever games you play its not my place to judge you or how you view such things. Do as you wish and but be polite enough to let others do so too :-)

Xijit
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Xijit

You are nitpicking: the obvious intent was to state “we will not be politically biased” not “the game will not be politically themed” … In The Division, they pulled it off quite well in how you are purely an agent of order that is just there to reestablish control.

The goofy secret soldier slant was just because Ubisoft is kinda moronic (and super French) about having zero clue about America law enticement & we actually do have a “Division” of federal law enforcement whose job is (in broad terms) to override all other local, state, and federal law: The US Marshals.

Thy could have dropped the whole secret soldier bit and gone with “The Division” being like a reservist SWAT program of the US Marshals & the game would have made 1,000% more sense.

Xijit
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Xijit

Granted, all of your enemies were characters of political extremists (ranging from the liberal “Justice Warriors” with flamethrowers, who are out to burn anyone who won’t submit to their fanatic insanity, to the opportunistic millitary dictator, who tries to enslave the city at the first opportunity to sieze power) but your character was completely neutral outside of protecting the innocent and ending the epidemic. And that is a huge difference from Ubisoft typical Tom Clancy conservative “Team American” titles or the Beserkly Liberal Far Cry series.

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Bannex

Get out of here with your logic, people want to split hairs over openly political messages vs political themes.

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McGuffn

A theme is a message.