You know when you just want to play a video game and you’re like, ‘man, there are too many politics in this video game?’. Out with that kind of thing, to be honest.
“Under the surface, every game is political” - that’s what they say. My boy Sonic proves that this is bullshit. Upwards we climb through these platforming levels, fighting on the side of nature against machines. So, you think this is saying something about environmentalism? Think again, nerd.
Call of Duty might be a game about a war, but we’re just shooting things, right? On the grand scale, there’s nothing wrong with that. Nobody is playing Call of Duty and going away thinking guns are cool. Free thinkers can play a game and take absolutely nothing away from it.
Of course, some games are better than others at saying absolutely nothing. Rayman is my boy, for example. More and more games sites are doing too much thinking for my liking, so come with us as we count down the best apolitical games in existence.
Ghost Recon Wildlands
America, land of the free. Military exercises to halt the flow of drugs in a foreign country - that’s just progress. Everyone gets a taste of freedom delivered from the barrel of a high-powered assault rifle. Really, there’s nothing political about secret wars being raged on foreign soil. If you can’t see that, you’re a fool. Cartel members, fuck off. Assholes.
Firing into crowded streets while muttering “shitballs” - that’s pure video game, ladies and gents. Underneath its military skin, Wildlands is just a game about a man and his teleporting friends on a roadtrip across Bolivia. Chuck a grenade. Kill all the dudes. Yeah, this is male bonding at its finest. Explain to me exactly how politics come into this. Aha, you can’t. Helicopters are mint.
V for Vendetta is my favourite movie. I just love how it deals with themes of looking cool in a Guy Fawkes mask. Very swish. Anonymous are modern day heroes.
Let’s look back on another game that made me feel as cool as calling someone a ‘cuck’ on an internet forum. After the release of Hitman 2, IO Interactive wanted to do something different, and Freedom Fighters was the result.
Rifle in hand, you build up a band of sewer pals and fight to hone your headshot skills, all while people spout nonsense about some uprising. Everyone’s favourite nation, armed because of the Second Amendment, saving their country from an ancient evil: Communism. Vandals and looters litter the streets. Old people hide in their homes. Let’s take back our country, one bullet at a time.
Underneath those light themes, it’s basically a fantasy setting. Communists are essentially orcs. I often think about Lord of the Rings when I’m playing this, as it’s the same vibe. Overtly apolitical, both. Now grab your gun, take to the streets, and wear your Guy Fawkes mask with pride.
Beyond Good & Evil
Firearms might be the best thing to ever happen to video games, but there’s something relaxing about how BG&E puts a different kind of shooting in the spotlight. Ready your camera, line up a shot, and snap photographs in one of the most relaxing apolitical games around. Everyone loves to compose a scene, remember the rule of thirds, and snap away without the worries of the modern world.
Extraterrestrials act as a neutral threat here, getting rid of any need for any in-your-face Right or Left politics. Do you have what it takes to take lovely photographs? Of course you do.
More and more games are attempting to make a clumsy metaphor about real-world issues. Over here, we’re simply bringing down a totalitarian alien regime with damn good journalism. Far Cry this ain’t. Somewhat fittingly, there’s a sequel to this classic being made at Ubisoft right now, and we’re sure it will have as little to say as the original game. Papping alien bases is what it’s all about. Earth’s worries are far behind. Escapism at its finest. Canon cameras are quite good. Hope you have a nice day.
Let’s not pretend. I think we’ve all wanted to go and live under the sea at some point in our lives. Beneath the waves, away from the politics and the wars - a place where we can be free.
Earth is fucked, and video games, much like BioShock’s Rapture, are an escape from those real world troubles. Right? That’s why BioShock is one of the most apolitical games in existence.
Andrew Ryan did nothing wrong. Rapture was just a place where people could go and hang out, occasionally imbuing themselves with some slug power. I know I would want to shoot bees out of my dick if I had the option.
Anyway, what’s political about a society closed off from the rest of the world? Nobody with a brain would think it was saying anything at all. So what if someone took their ideas too far? Are we not entitled to the sweat of our brow?
Rapture is cool. Everyone loves it because it’s cool and underwater and shit. Big Daddies are cool. Art deco environments are cool. Don’t try insert your politics into everything.
Fuckin’ B.J. Blazkowicz - what a guy. Underneath his muscly exterior, he’s a shooter protagonist who isn’t afraid to cry. Crying is a really good way to make the bits that matter stand out - the shooting.
Killing enemy soldiers has never been so fun. Never mind their political affiliations - Wolfenstein 2 is as apolitical as games come. America is good, and that’s just a fact. Zero politics there.
I do begin to wonder why everyone must over-analyse these things. Sure, you go to Venus and meet Hitler, but it’s just a video game, man. Can you not see that? U-boats are great. Murder is fantastic.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
Everyone wants super powers. As Billie Lurk, you get to run around Karnaca, a fictional place removed from the politics of our planet, stabbing rich people. That’s just good game design.
The protagonist was once a street urchin, elevated to power by her willingness to kill to survive. Here, in this world, you can turn your brain off and simply murder virtual people.
Even though it is possible to get through the game in a pacifist manner, real gamers will just enjoy all the stabbing. Really, that’s what games are about.
I know some people like to imagine themes that aren’t there, but Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is above deep thought. Crouch walk, slice throats, teleport around, parkour, and shoot people in the face. Heaven.
Papers, Please is one of those games that you can play to relax. Rifle through papers, whack a stamp on them, and turn off your brain. Of course, real video games are about shooting men, but this is a good escape if you just want to chill out on the way to work.
The game places you in the shoes of a border agent who works for the local government. Everyone wants to enter your wonderful country, and you just need to make sure their papers are in order. Correct papers means you can grant them entry, but it’s their fault if they didn’t bring the right documents so you’re free to simply turn them away.
There’s something meditative and calming about stepping into the shoes of a person with such a mundane, meticulous job. The days fly by as you stamp, check, and approve documents.
Here, in Arstotzka, all your worries slip away. Everyone who says it’s a political game needs to turn off their brain and just treat it like a real job. Bet you they get more enjoyment out of it that way.
Of course, there are some complications. Rewiring your brain so you’re not simply wanting to murder everyone is hard. Difficult, even. Especially since some of the people trying to get into Arstotzka will try to guilt trip you about it. Really, little computer people? Stop trying to make me feel feelings - I’m a video gamer.
Metal Gear Solid V
Never before has tactical espionage action been so apolitical. Underneath its military exterior, Metal Gear Solid V is a game about nothing. Creep around the battlefield, choke out guards. Let them fly back to your base on a balloon to join your private military corporation.
Everything about it screams ‘adult Pokemon game’. Afghanistan is teeming with soldiers, and you gotta catch ‘em all. Really, there’s never been a military game as apolitical as this.
Do you really think Hideo Kojima would try to say something in a game where you can wear a cardboard box on your head? I don’t think so. Snake is just an idiot with a robot arm. A robot arm! Ridiculous!
Maybe you should try to just enjoy things. After all, video games are meant to be fun. Many people are too busy trying to insert their viewpoints into our artform. Empty your mind of thought. Nobody cares what you think. T-rex robots are cool.
Now read the first letter of every sentence to spell out the hidden messages.