GamesHow Do Video Games Highlight Social Issues?

How Do Video Games Highlight Social Issues?

How Do Video Games Highlight Social Issues?

We are sure that you have read a lot of news about the harm of video games. The media tend to blame computer games primarily for violence by teenagers, and many parents think the same. There are many TV celebrities who claim that games harm the spiritual development of children and normalize violence in teenagers.

However, scientific studies say the opposite. For example, a recent study published by the University of Oxford found that children who played video games for an hour a day were happier, more social, and less hyperactive. This research was conducted on 5,000 boys and girls aged 10 to 15 years, and it has been scientifically proven that video games were truly beneficial for their development. Moreover, video games also help highlight some social issues and attract attention to them. So whether you want to save the world or try to make a profit in games like Gladiator, Avalon 2, Starburst or other free slots –°anada gamers can find on gambling sites, the virtual world is much more useful than you think. Below, we list the most successful games that emphasize social issues.

Fallout 2

Developer

Black Isle Studios

Publisher

Interplay Productions

Release Date

1998

Platforms

Microsoft Windows, macOS

Fallout 2 is a turn-based role-playing game set in a post-nuclear world. It is played from an isometric perspective and emphasizes many social issues: why war is bad, what role morality rules play in society, why every choice has both good and bad consequences in the real world, etc. But perhaps the most important issue that it emphasizes is LGBT rights.

Until Fallout 2, LGBT was portrayed as cartoonish characters in games. Fallout 2 was the first game to show them as usual people and allow same-sex marriage. Yes, you could marry someone of your own gender in a post-apocalyptic world, and that was a real revolution in that era. Until then, the main characters in the games were no different from the male heroes in the action movies of the 90s. Fallout 2, on the other hand, made a revolution as the first game to allow the main character to be gay, and also drew attention to this social issue.

Max Payne

Developer

Rockstar Games

Publisher

Rockstar Games

Release Date

2001

Platforms

Microsoft Windows, macOS

Many players remember Max Payne with its bullet-time feature. “The Matrix” was just released, and you could slow down time just like Neo with this feature in the game. However, the bullet time feature wasn't the only thing that made it popular. Until Max Payne, almost every action game repeated the classic Hollywood cliché in its scenario. If an enemy was to be fought, that enemy could not be a citizen of the United States. The USA was a perfect country, and the enemies could only be from countries like Russia and Colombia. The US would fight the bad guys in these countries and liberate the citizens of those countries. Sounds familiar, right?

Games like “Call of Duty” still use this cliché scenario. Max Payne was one of the first games to highlight that corruption began within the USA. With every step he took, Max Payne was confronted with a part of the corrupt system: his colleagues, politicians, judiciary, big corporations, etc. From the bottom to the top, the system was completely corrupt, and American society was not innocent at all. Max Payne became one of the first games that did not repeat the classic “Hail America” scenario and showed the American dream is over.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Developer

Rockstar Games

Publisher

Rockstar Games

Release Date

2004

Platforms

Microsoft Windows, macOS, PlayStation, Xbox

The GTA series includes the most popular games in the world. The fifth game in this series is considered the second best-selling video game of all time and generated $ 1 billion in revenue in the first three days alone. Each game in the series emphasized a different social issue, but we think that the third game, San Andreas, was much more successful in this regard. Some features of the game:

  • GTA San Andreas was one of the first games to use a black person as the main character.
  • We are sure that you noticed black protagonists are pretty rare even in modern games, so San Andreas's use of a black character named “CJ” almost 15 years ago was a real revolution.
  • CJ talked about the discrimination he suffered because of his skin color throughout the game and showed why he was dragged into a life of crime.

GTA San Andreas became one of the first best-selling video games with an emphasis on racial equality and racism.

This War of Mine

Developer

11 Bit Studios

Publisher

11 Bit Studios

Release Date

2014

Platforms

Microsoft Windows, macOS, PlayStation, Xbox

In almost every war-themed computer game, the player always controls the hero. This hero is a soldier and ready to do anything to protect his homeland. While wandering through destroyed cities, he pays attention to enemies, not civilians, and wins the game by killing a boss at the end.

This War of Mine is a game about war, but it doesn't use this cliché scenario. Instead, it describes in a very striking way how the war affects civilians. This time, you're not playing a hero, but an ordinary person struggling to survive. You are in a war-ravaged city, and you need food and shelter to survive. How far would you go to get them? For example, would you steal from a family that struggles? Would you sacrifice someone else to live? Every decision you make in this game requires you to use your conscience. This War of Mine is a game that affects you psychologically and offers a very stunning experience.

Watch Dogs

Developer

Ubisoft

Publisher

Ubisoft

Release Date

2014

Platforms

Microsoft Windows, macOS, PlayStation, Xbox

Ubisoft has developed Watch Dogs as a response to the GTA series, and we can easily say that it is more successful in attracting attention to social issues. Watch Dogs takes place in a world where every step we take is monitored and recorded. A system called “ctOS” controls all parts of the city with cameras, and there's nowhere to hide. Every step you take is followed by the “Big Brother”.

In the game, you control a member of a hacker group called “DeadSec” and fight against the system. Watch Dogs is the first big-budget PC game to highlight topics like privacy, big data, and government overwatch, and it does so very well. Throughout the game, you really feel that every step you take is being followed, and you see how dangerous it can be. Big Data may be a popular topic of discussion right now, but at the time Watch Dogs was released, most people were unaware of it, which shows how broad the vision of the game is. Moreover, if you like the game, know that the second one is on the market and the third one will be published in 2020.

Primal

Developer

Guerrilla Cambridge

Publisher

Sony Computer Entertainment

Release Date

2003

Platforms

PlayStation 2

Today, there are many games and movies starring female protagonists, but in 2003, it was hard to even imagine such a thing. At that time, the main heroes could only be white men, and women were just figures that need to be saved. Guerilla Games, therefore, made a real revolution with Primal. In this game, you were controlling a woman named Jennifer Tate and trying to save her boyfriend. Yes, the person who needed to be rescued this time was a man, and Jennifer was ready to search every floor of hell to do it. This is not an idiom: Jennifer was really going to hell and fighting demons to save her boyfriend. Truth be told, it was not a perfect game, and there were many aspects to criticize. But it was one of the first games to use a woman as the main protagonist and deserves credit for just this reason. If you don't own a PS2, you can also play an updated version of the game on PS4.

Mafia

Developer

Illusion Softworks

Publisher

Gathering of Developers

Release Date

2002

Platforms

PlayStation 2, Xbox, Microsoft Windows

Mafia is the cult game of many players, and the main reason for this is the gripping story. The game takes place in the 1930s and depicts the rise of a character named Thomas Angelo in the world of the mafia. If you think this is not a very original story, you are right, but the difference was in how the Mafia told its story. Until then, games about criminal organizations always portrayed them in a positive way. The hero was always right and would continue to be right no matter how many crimes he committed. The criminal organization would protect all its members, and committing a crime was portrayed as a fun thing.

Mafia was the game that put an end to this nonsense. Thomas Angelo witnessed how other people suffered from it as he committed crimes to rise in the organization. Mafia members did not protect its members and simply expected them to stay silent. The game did not turn out well for Thomas - we won't give too much detail to avoid spoilers, but let's point out that it was not a happy ending. Mafia was one of those rare games that showed the true face of life within a criminal organization.

Photo: Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash

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