The Exploitation Of Apolitical Politics (The Jimquisition)

The Exploitation Of Apolitical Politics (The Jimquisition)

[Applause] you'll have to forgive your old pal Jim sterling today I recently entered a competition to win an all-expenses-paid trip to having fucking bronchitis and I won so if I'm a wheezy sweaty crinkly shirted mess that'll be why not that I'm saying having bronchitis and regular asthma attacks is a bad thing I don't want to make any statements here I wouldn't want to be seen committing to the idea that bronchitis is bad someone would assume that's an easy thing to take a stand against but we don't want to make any statements here on the Jim position now let's talk about the division – which isn't divisive at all the division – a game about civil war societal collapse and terrorism is according to its creators not to making any political statements it's a puzzling assertion to make for almost any game attempting to present a serious story about civil unrest much less one that proudly plasters Tom Clancy all over its promotional material Clancy having been an author of political thrillers and military espionage stories the division 2 team has been twisting and squirming as it attempts to capitalize on political imagery while claiming to radiate no politics at all and nowhere has the squirming bin squirmy er than in a by now notorious polygon interview in which creative director Terry spear came off as downright pitiful in his attempts to avoid admitting the obvious in the interview polygons Charlie Hall does an impressively tenacious job of trying to nail spear down attempting to get him to admit pretty basic obvious facts which the director appears unable to do when asked if the division – is about fighting a corrupt government Terri spear wouldn't come close to admitting it simply saying it was about rebuilding and helping the civilians move for it and move on so there's tons of narrative bits in there he wouldn't even admit the game was about civil war instead sidestepping such charges to talk about their choice of Washington DC as a location had nothing to do with anything but he just said it was about topping Manhattan in the first game okay cold that's why you chose Washington DC but the Americans are fighting the Americans in a war in a civil war any thoughts on that Thierry any thoughts at all about the premise of your game any thoughts at all one of the most amazing parts of the interview is when the polygon interviewer straight up relays the divisions premise to him and spear writes the premise off as speculation in response to Hall saying the titular division is the last remnant of an old government trying to push out the sitting government he fired back with that's an amazing assumption that you're making one that I'm not going to confirm or deny I'm just going to say that you are a veteran agent who was activated before the time of the division toe and you got the SOS Col okay your water on you're tired you've been doing division stuff elsewhere and you arrived in DC to find what it is that you're going to find and you're going to rebuild and make sure that DC does not collapse shade does not collapse and that the nation does not collapse and so should it be clear we're definitely not making any political statements right this is still a work of fiction right now with all due respect to the division twos creative director that is among the more pathetic loads of non-committal evasive guff I've ever read eventually spear boils down all the political imagery and themes to its most shallow form claiming that we are absolutely here to explore a new city as if that's all the division too is a city exploration sim you couldn't get more pitifully reductive and insulting towards your own game if you're tried even if the polygons interviewer was making wild assumptions Terri spear didn't have the guts to provide any clarity refusing to confirm or deny basic facts about the game's own premise and if you're that scared of your game zone ideas you're probably in the wrong business or at least making the wrong games the division 2 begins with a cutscene which talks about the collapse of American civilization and makes a clearly definitive point that the people who had guns were the ones who survived the fold almost immediately the game is flirting with gun debates with no police to protect you did you own a gun did your neighbor survive the very first omission involves you fighting your way to the White House a place which serves as your seat of operation you know the big political point of the place with all the politics it's the White House where the politics live if you go into the game knowing what Terri spear said it almost comes off as parroting it's so obviously fucking political and in being political it's so obviously says things because it can't help but say things once you start using that imagery and start exploring those things I mean the very back story of the division spins from a terrorist bio weapon attack that circulated via infected banknotes on Black Friday American consumerism having been weaponized against itself now if anyone's remove us off to a Red Storm entertainment can explain to me how that's not making any political statements I'll explain to them how muscular fits and attractive I am many games whether intentional or not make political statements and if you fail to commit to any people will come up with them for you there's a distinct subset of people who believe politics have no place in video games an impossible belief due to how politics affects everything in life and directly informs the vast majority of fiction and of course nonfiction out there from early Nursery Rhymes to bestselling novels politics is quite literally everywhere many of the most beloved and critically acclaimed video games of soaked in political statements and themes Metal Gear Solid and its sequels touch on everything for a nuclear disarmament – war profiteering – information redaction Bioshock is about an extremist libertarian City descending into a chaos of its own making there is a strong environmentalist themes in Final Fantasy 7 Call of Duty despite its reputation as a USA propaganda actually carries some strong anti-war messaging in a number of its campaigns politics can be extracted from even the most unassuming of gangs because directly or indirectly they inform many of the most unassuming games for what are Sonic the Hedgehog titles if they're not about a freedom fighter taking down an industrial capitalists enslavement ring and what can we say about Mario's constant attempts to stop one monarch forcing another into an arranged marriage these are points similar to once many have made over the years but they bear repeating especially in response to a guy claiming his game isn't political because it is in his words still a work of fiction right I mean just wow fucking Wow I gotta wonder what most political fiction as think of that statement obviously there's a mild tongue-in-cheek element when we talk about the politics of Mario but they are there you can extract them and yeah you could say that it's a bit of a stretch to talk about arranged marriage in Mario even though it is there again literally about governments and terrorism's in civil wars is going to say something no matter how fictional it is Ubisoft CEO Yves Remo wasn't quite as evasive as the red light director but still refused to admit the division to was saying anything their goal in all the games we create is to make people think he told the Guardian we want to put them in front of questions that they don't always ask themselves automatically we want players to listen to different opinions and to have their own opinions our goal is to give all the tools to the player in order for them to think about the subjects to be able to see things from far enough away what remote fails to note is that his stated goal is itself a political statement it's saying that the questions presented in game the opinions on display are worthy of consideration and debates Schumer says Ubisoft games give us the tools to think about subjects but over softs making the ultimate choice about which tools which subjects are present in game and those choices say something in and of themselves if the game asks us to consider the benefits of possessing firearms in times of unrest which the division – immediately does how can that not be making a statement it's telling us that's an important political topic that the gun debate issue is an issue worth debating that's a clear-cut political statement Remo went on to tell the Guardian that the division – is both politically things and politically impartial but those two statements simply do not work together the choice to make politically themed material and the choice over what themes to use what statements to broadcast are not impartial II chosen remember this game has antagonists it has protagonists it has villainous characters it has heroic characters where those characters are what those characters believe whether we're meant to sympathize with them or not those are all choices Ubisoft may and they all say something about the politics of the game to recap Ubisoft decided what to put in their game what to represent and what to have us think about those decisions are direct reflections of political beliefs claiming Tom Clancy's the division toe a game about civil war corruption terrorism the role of government makes no political statements is about as absurd as that time Bethesda claimed it's paid mods which were paid mods were not paid mods more than that it doesn't utter disservice to video games themselves as a medium to claim the division is just about exploring a city or just asking questions is too narrative Lee neuter it to states that it's a spineless game with toothless themes that it has neither the guts nor the capacity to stand for anything or say anything which is downright insulting not just to the audience's intelligence but to the division to Lately game companies appear terrified to be seen taking stance on anything Deus Ex mankind divided proudly marketed itself as a game about mechanical apartheid and explores themes of transhumanism segregation and martial law yet Square Enix denied the game had anything to do with the imagery it was deliberately utilizing it was claimed mankind divided wasn't trying to take a side in a story about very obvious and clear oppression of marginalized groups and if you're saying you're not taking a site in that you are not looking enlightened and balanced in fact refusing to take a site in that discussion just makes you look like a dick an upholder of a very shitty status quo which is often how people look when they say they're not taking sides because to not take a side is to uphold the status quo and that is in itself a political statements even david cage so proud about how deep and provocative he thinks his games are tried to distance himself from political themes in Detroit become human a game about clearly defined prejudice political upheaval and the fear of automation it's a game firmly sympathetic to the androids who are mistreated and others and regularly miss blamed for society's ills with clear parallels to real-world racism I used to say as a joke that Detroit become human boiled down to what if Androids was people which was a cracker the games of that cluster right but in researching for this video to my disbelief I found David cage pretty much said the exact same thing in the game's depth and ease the story and telling is really about androids he limply told Kotaku they are discovering emotions and wanting to be free if people want to see parallels with this or that that's fine with me but math stories about Android so want to be free here forget the games over political themes forget the potential to say something of value just render the game down to the most simplistic what if Androids was people's story imaginable a child's story the most vapid oversimplified take on an Android story way to respect your own work just recently valve hemmed and hawed over the removal of rake day from Steam again no highly prominent storefront in its right mind would be caught distributing it spent days allowing the controversy to fester and even gain attention from real politicians before taking it down doing so with a mealy-mouthed statement only going so far as to say the game posed unknown costs and risks it couldn't even bring itself to take a stand against rake day that's a gimmick that's a freebie that is one of the easiest things it could have taken a stand against and no valve didn't dare in a way it's not hard to see why game companies could be scared to be seen having opinions we live in some fucked up times where battle lines are being drawn in the sand over comic book movies and where political radicalization is one of social media's biggest problems we're dealing with real-life nuts is again there's a very real terror out there about the coming targeted in the next big shitstorm and I can appreciate that this show which I could also reductively boil down to just a show about videogames gets political all the time especially when it comes to capitalism regulation and unchecked business practices and it really can be exhausting and stress inducing but game companies as they so often do want to have their cake and fuck it so they want to exploit political things while claiming to be apolitical they want to talk about prejudice but lie and say it's only fictional prejudice as if that idea would have any real weight without the real-world prejudice informing the korie's which is just insulting to the victims of real-world prejudice as if their stories are good enough to exploit for money for products but not important enough to actually discuss in the products they want to just ask questions without having the backbone to answer any of them to commit to anything or even admit that the choice of questions are themselves a kind of answer they want to Sela came literally about a terrorist born American Civil War in which you operate from the White House as a governmental remnant fighting an oppressive regime with hints that your own side might have its issues and they want to claim that says nothing that it means nothing they can keep that lie going if they want but they're not fooling anyone all they're doing is making their own game sound like me entering ineffectual weekly written monuments to insipidity and you know what I think video games deserve a bit more respect than that mind you considering far cry 5 was too cowardly to even say that a violent militant doomsday prepper cult was bad maybe their guns don't deserve any respect at all [Applause] [Applause] [Applause] considering right now we have a president that struggles to even condemn white supremacy another gimme another freebie it's hardly surprising that video game companies are terrified to be seen having a spine a backbone a belief a stance anything but as I've said those stances come out regardless your beliefs inform the things you write the things you say the things you do and to pretend otherwise is a lie and in the video game industry it's exploitation political imagery is being exploited if it can't be backed up with anything of actual worth or substance or if at the very least even more insulting Lee perhaps the people making the game pretend that there's no way to what's being said or shown which is what they're trying to do with the division tone you can play it for 10 minutes and find that it says things and you can do that with many video games you can do that with many things you watch the beliefs are there the information is there I could again just say the gym question is a video game show it's just about video games but that's a line just like it's a line to say that the division 2 is a political it's not very few things are and even if they try to be that centrism is itself politicized so thank God for me I'd say more but I'm not joking about the bronchitis I think I'm actually dying right now right now I could be dead before you see this me

29 thoughts on “The Exploitation Of Apolitical Politics (The Jimquisition)

  1. I like how some gamers don’t realize that saying they don’t want politics in games is. Political statement in and of itself.

  2. I have to say I disagree with your overall argument. It's true that these games are bound to have parallels to our real world, however I don't think that we should be taking the concepts shown in said games as "political messages". Like if someone makes a game where you are a Nazi and are doing abhorrent things, the game isn't saying that the Nazi's are good, it's just a game that some developer made because they wanted to make a game. Similarly if some developer made some fictional group in their game which happened to have several parallels to the nazi's, sure we can point out the parallels, but that group existing in said game, and doing things isn't making a political message about the real world, it's simply exploring those topics because the writers wanted to explore said topics.

  3. In the case of Division, I think I know why they did this. Maybe they were marketing to the group who think "politics shouldn't be in games".

  4. div 1 is better than div 2. Div one has a more politcally charged story, better aesthetic (imo) and better art style for enemy factions, and as lackluster as it is it has a better final boss than div 2 in comparison. Div 1 felt like a true post revolution city in chaos. Div 2 feels like you are playing call of duty map with mech terrorists.

  5. It's not that the game isn't about politics.
    It's that the political discussion has become a cesspool worse then the Youtube comment section. So game studios don't even want to touch that with a 20ft pole. Let games be about plain dumb entertainment, and if there's some crazy political messages in there somewhere? Meh, that's just flavor to the core of entertainment. I mean, noone's putting Doom 2016 on blast for being about immigration, right? Owait…

  6. @14:20 straight up my issue with being able to support any music or shows that sit there and produce political content but don't in any way care for or help fund the people that are actually in these situations that they produce. their exposure of the subject hasn't and will never be for the benefit of those that are affected by the subject they say "hey that's a story and we can market off of it" . ever so slowly have some of my all time favorite music tv and movies have started to corrode and expose the corporate asshats that are always trying to convince their audience that their product is "ground breaking" or "the thing that has everyone talking" or "experience an untold story". but every time the money is going to execs and fucking marketing. im at the point where i don't want to hear things said i just want to see shit get done for the topics that need to be addressed.

  7. Hey, what's the 5:25–7:55 song that sounds like Naoki Kodaka from Sunsoft tackled Ghosts n Goblins?

  8. Most mind boggling thing someone has ever said to me was: „Bioshock infinit is NOT about racism.“ 😆 And I think he genuinely believed that.

  9. I think the mistake a lot of people make when claiming something isn't political is that they're operating under the idea that because certain ideas or themes are so widely accepted as truth that calling them political seems almost nonsensical, because politics are by their nature divisive, therefore if an idea isn't divisive, how can it be political?

    The thing is though just because everyone agrees on something doesn't make it apolitical, all it means is that that political idea is the widely accepted. Also, just because it's the widely accepted one doesn't mean there aren't people who don't accept it. There is no idea so demonstrably logically and/or morally wrong that there won't be at least one person/group of people that accept and defend it.

    Then again there's also the possibility that some of these people who are upset at certain political themes in media are only upset because those specific political ideas are ones they disagree with.

  10. Or maybe not everyone is a leftist shill that has to turn everything into propaganda. Maybe they just wanted to make a realistic looter-shooter and an easy, generic setting for that would be a place embroiled in a civil war or something like that. How else would you make a game like that without resorting to science fiction or fantasy? Give me a realistic setting that would work for that, because just about any could be considered political by anyone of they wanted to push an agenda. Sometimes games aren't trying to say anything at all other than "blow things away and get fat loot".

  11. I know Tom Clancy is fucking dead and all but if they're gonna pretend to not be political you think they'd slap someone else's name on it instead yknow

  12. Re-watching this, all that Terry had to do in the interview to answer that question with minimal blowback would be simply, " We are game makers and Mr. Clancy is no longer with us. We try our best to honor what would want if he were in my position about the story." Sidestep your responsibility and give Tom a shout out because, really? What does the average Joe know about Clancy other than that he a Republican political novelist? That's why you put the name on there you fucking morons….This whole issue is ridiculous, it's like they've never heard the expression, The politics of … . Jim's right, politics are the discussion of opinions, and we all know what opinions are like….

  13. Turning everything said, mentioned, done, etc… into a political argument is what got us to this mess were in in the first place.

    What you are missing is that Square enix are actually right and have the right approach.
    Because if they did take a side then the game would in fact turn into a political statement, but on the developers behalf.
    It would take away the choice of how the player approaches the world and it would limit their choices.
    Furthermore as we seen with dozens & dozens of games that engage in such overt political messaging, it ends in disaster.
    Often not limited to the game, but taking the studio & employees with it. (-> See your own endless rants about the AAA publishers)
    Because yes jim, a publisher defying laws to stand up for gambling for kids IS about as political a statement can be.

    But you know why we got to that stage?
    Because a tiny group of people decided to turn every fucking single thing under the sun into a political argument.
    And are pushing the idea that everything is political.
    Life is not political, you are not living on this planet to serve fucking politics.
    If your identity as a person is defined by your politics, you need to urgently see a psychiatrist.

    And now that the public is soaked in this complete utter bullshit, you have games coming around now telling them: oh no you cant escape from politics buddy, no fun for you.
    Here is some more immersion breaking political horeshit for you, let me lecture you about donald fucking trump and fuck you if you voted for him.
    "Here are 5 underlying reasons in our game that show you why you are a bad person if you belief X"
    Soderland aka "my daughter asked X, i couldnt tell her reality, therefore i must alter reality" and "if you dont like that, dont buy it"'.
    Well, we sure saw the results of that now didnt we?
    How anyone expected any different is beyond me, because thats just not how people work period.

    You cooking a steak on the BBQ is not a political statement against veganism, it only becomes that when a vegan comes around and MAKES it into a political statement.
    And when you put on the "everything is politics"-glasses, then everything does become political through YOUR eyes.
    Suddenly you are cooking that steak to make a political statement, because you decided to adopt the idea that "everything is political".
    That doesnt mean that people around you are doing everything because of political motivations jim.
    Its just you that decided to see it that way.
    Its pure unbridled poison for the mind and results in self censorship, the worst kind of censorship, as you proceed to filter everything through the "everything is political"-lens.

    Its the adoption of "everything is political", that is the main force behind the current polarization.
    Its not russian trolls, its not trump, its not the rightwing, its not anything of the sorts.
    Its people being bullshitted into believing that everything is political.
    And for games you can all thank the games media for that.

  14. Guess what, everything is political. It doesn't have to be speaking of current politics or debates, but if something has a message it is conveying, it's going to be political, that's just how communication works.

  15. A fact that does not care about feelings: All art is inherently political.
    A fact that does not care about feelings:Video games are considered art.

  16. I'm usually one of the people that doesn't want companies to have opinions, but you're right that it can get ridiculous when taken too far in the other direction.

  17. The personal is indeed political. I agree with you in this video, Jim, but you missed out an important point. The game is clearly making a statement of some kind and this guy (forgot his name already) doesn't believe what he is saying any more than you do. He's just saying this because if he confirmed it then you would get headlines like "Developers Just Confirmed The Division 2 Is Pro Gun Control And You Should Feel XYZ About That" and marketers don't want the product they're marketing to polarise people.
    Whole nother discussion about games being art incoming.

  18. The interviewer got the premise of the game wrong though. It's not about an old government trying to push out a new government. There is no new government. There are various factions all vying to install their own (or maintain anarchy).

  19. I agree with Jim on this, but there is one point he should highlight (which the examples he referenced didn't express) is that some writers/creators may have a very intentioned message be it political or not, but many wish to remain creatively silent in order for the audience to make their own conclusions.

    If I may provide two examples. Morbid as it is to claim, George Orwell made one of the greatest accomplishments to his own writing by immediately falling ill and dying after publishing Nineteen Eighty-Four. The lack of commentary by Orwell on his work has created a wealth of interpretations and readings of his work (that can admittedly be approved or disproven by his prior advocacies). Many of which could be dispelled by him simply providing commentary and filling in the blanks.

    Another is the late Stanley Kubrick, whose works offer infinite layers of interpretation yet in interviews Kubrick was insistent on rarely revealing his own interpretation or withheld specific goals of his work. He said it himself on numerous occasions, "If I could've written it more clearly, I would have."

    Sterling's examples don't offer this nuance but I think it is something that is commonly forgotten from a creative standpoint.

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