A blog that I follow, After Dark Gaming, recently brought to my attention a news story reporting that Russia’s government is making plans to create their own state-funded videogame. This includes plans to give government grants to local private companies in order to promote Russian history and patriotism.
This is quite an interesting story for me because being a student of Political Science, one of my favorite aspects of politics and history is government propaganda during the Second World War and the Cold War.
As an New Englander with left-wing tendencies, I respect my government and the programs the government provides (from highways to schools and even Healthcare), but from having studied history and from reading several choice books I am hesitant when it comes to government-funded programs to promote patriotism. This is because I’ve learned that in government, there tends to always be two sides to every story.
I do not want to jump the gun with this topic because we currently do not know what kind of game the Russian government is creating. From a pop culture point of view, this is not a completely unexpected response from Russia if you consider the plots of major games American companies have made in recent years. The Russian government has said that the goal of this program is to set the record straight on what exactly the Russian Army did throughout World History. The first state funded videogame will be focused on the birth and development of the Russian army during the first World War and is slated to be ready some time next year.
The big question that I have is what kind of game could it be? While a point and click adventure game seems like the standard choice for delivering a history lesson about Russia, it would not be that popular for young Russian gamers and I do not know how well a First Person Shooter game would be received in the post-Cold War political-correctness world we live in. Also history does not allow much wiggle room when it comes to player interaction, as an example, no matter how good I am at the game I could (and should) never be able turn the tide at the battle at Bunker Hill during the American Revolution.
Even with that being said I am very interested in following the game’s development, what message it gives the players, and more importantly how well the game actually plays. As intriguing as the game’s story line could be and because historical accuracy needs to be maintained, a game is only as good as the controls, gameplay, and delivery of the story.
The more important question is; does this sets a precedent for other Western Superpowers to make their own games to rally their citizen’s patriotism or educate about the nation’s past? I ask this because the Russian government has acknowledged the fact that videogames can be used to teach, educate and entertain citizens. How effective this will be remains to be seen.
Source: “Russian Government to Produce ‘Patriotic’ Video Games”
Be MOP focuses on the world of videogames with my own reflections about the current news and developments that happens throughout the gaming industry. Updates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays