April Fools’: Second Trump Dossier Reveals Games Industry Involved in Campaign Propaganda

 

In the weeks since the Stoneman Douglas school shooting, President Trump has made it exceedingly clear that he believes video games are capable of engineering thought processes in their players. From every possible pulpit, he has preached the dangers of violent video games. He’s met with industry leaders to discuss their culpability in the oddly geographically contained violent killings. He’s tweeted to reach as many parents as possible, hoping to stem the flow of shooters to, well, future shooters. Until now, this was the only insight into Trump’s thoughts on video games and social engineering. The discovery of a second dossier, though, changes everything.

It seems that the Trump campaign’s engineering department went well beyond asking Russians to post false news that potential voters could have easily verified had they made any attempt to do so. No, in a deeply unconscionable fit of genius, the campaign contacted games development companies to work Trumpian undertones into their games. These games were not to be published before the 2016 election. Operation Stealth Caturday was developed by the campaign as they looked ahead to a potentially unpopular first term, with the hopes of smoothing over tensions for 2020.

While the dossier is not currently public and no specific games can be verified as part of the list, three have been implicated by social media users and other publications. The most recent of these is Far Cry 5, originally believed to be an indictment of rural conservative lifestyles. Players who have already finished took to Twitter to point out that the evils of gun-toting middle America go mostly unpunished throughout the game. Instead, the story focuses on a specific cultish group, leaving the remaining folk to go about their lives without any retribution for their assumed political alignment. For further reading on why this is unacceptable, check out Polygon’s hot take on the missed opportunity.

 

Monster Hunter also got a share of social media blasting. The single-minded focus on raiding a new land, killing the large, monstrous creatures that inhabit it, and using their carcass for sustenance and parts? It smacks of colonialist apologism, repackaged as a fun way to spend your weekend. At least these colonizers will spend their weekend indoors, though the long-term implications could be a disaster for our limping society. Vice has more on that.

 

The other likely candidate is Night in the Woods. Medium recently published an exposé on the game, pointing out the vile Trumpian propaganda in this unassuming little indie. Night in the Woods is a darkly humorous look at the intersection of suburban small-town decay, mental illness, and coming of age in the modern era. The people of Possum Springs are stuck in a hard spot as the manufacturing and mining jobs that supported the town have disappeared, leaving an uncertain future behind. It’s an honest look at the things desperate people will do in the name of making their home great again. The people of Possum Springs, though, are devoutly religious, conservative, and xenophobic, and in the end are allowed to live unimpeded, unchanged lives as though this is normal. There is no place for nuance in modern politics, and the quiet acceptance of this lifestyle subtly reinforces players’ thoughts that maybe having different opinions is ok.

As 2018 and 2019 pass, more games that allow characters with a conservative bent to live normal lives will be released. Slowly, this could change the way players behave at the ballot box, paving the way for another four years of Trump in the Oval Office. Alternately, this is a scathing satirical post meant to draw attention to the way these accusations are being thrown around. Conservatives exist every day without being punished for their votes, and that is how it should be in a democratic society. Blasting small indie developers, a big game hunter, and a shoot-em-up joyride through a weird cult as not being anti-Trump enough goes beyond being a shit take. It’s actively disingenuous. We can all do better than this. Let’s stop pretending games have any more weight in a person’s vote than they do in whether someone becomes a shooter, and for fuck’s sake, let’s not act like homicide is the only correct response to seemingly Republican characters.

               
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