It seems like we debate this every other week in the games industry: Which games are political and which are not?
One thing is for sure: Games about war are intrinsically political—developer Infinity Ward just doesn’t think so.
In an interview with Game Informer, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare campaign gameplay director Jacob Minkoff and studio narrative director Taylor Kurosaki stated that the game, one that is about warring nations, is in no way political.
“That doesn’t mean anything,” said Minkoff when asked if Modern Warfare was a political game. “Do we touch topics that bear a resemblance to the geopolitics of the world that we live in today? Hell yeah, because that is the subject matter of Modern Warfare. Are we telling a story that has anything to do with the specific governments of any countries that we are portraying? No.”
So, by Minkoff’s logic, not having a direct reference to or representation of Donald Trump within the game completely disqualifies it from being political. And also by that logic, all of your favorite political allegories that are set within the boundaries of fiction cannot be political, because they aren’t talking about specific people, policies or historical events.
That just simply isn’t true, though. George Orwell’s 1984 is completely fictional, but is it a political novel about risks of government overreach, totalitarianism and repressive regimes? It absolutely is.
“These are the types of questions that have been asked for the last 50 years,” Kurosaki told Game Informer. “We do talk about concepts like colonialism, and occupation, and independence, and freedom. We don’t maybe say those words specifically, but that’s the realm that we are in—but you could have a game that takes place in revolutionary America talk about those exact same conflicts,” he concluded.
This point doesn’t hold up, either, and directly conflicts with the developer’s claims that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is not a political video game. The revolutionary war was a political event in which America rebelled against British rule. Colonialism, occupation, independenc and freedom are political topics by definition. It seems as if Infinity Ward is just pandering to the “keep politics out of my entertainment” crowd in order to widen the game’s target audience (and sales), but this is a pretty ham-fisted way of doing that.
In Minkoff’s final points, he goes on to say, “I feel like for me to honestly say—if you wanted a situation where I would say that ‘yes, it is a political story,’ I would have to be telling a story about specifically the exact administrations and governments and events in our world today. We are talking about thematic things.”
If two or more parties from rival nations engaging in violent conflict whilst vying for power and influence isn’t political, then we’re not sure what is. Apparently, the word “political” doesn’t mean anything anymore.
See the interview for yourself below.