Skip to main content

“Games and art are inherently political” but we shouldn’t preach, says Cyberpunk's Mike Pondsmith

It’s time for another post about politics in games, since we know you love those. “More politics”, you beg in the comments - “More!”

During a GameLab chat, Cyberpunk pen and paper creator Mike Pondsmith got pulled onto the topic of politics in games and came back with a response that - in his own words - will p**s off both sides of the debate.

“Games and art are inherently political,” he said, p**sing off one side of the debate. “The point is, man is an inherently political animal. We organise our societies to work for people on top, or hopefully for people throughout societies. It’s always there. That being said, we have a tendency now to say, ‘It’s not political’. And that’s part of the problem, people see it as a weapon to be used with or against their personal beliefs.”

Watch on YouTube

In other words, sometimes people only notice “politics” in games when it’s something that disagrees with their personal worldview. When it’s not against them, it doesn’t exist. It’s not often you see players complaining about blowing up towns in the Middle East, but god forbid you blow up towns in the Middle East while playing as a woman.

Saying that, Pondsmith also believes you should leave the audience to decide what’s moral and what isn’t, when it comes to the P-word.

“Freedom allows a civilization to get checks and balances to survive and grow from its mistakes,” Pondsmith explained. “If you want people to see your view, you really have to stop preaching.”

He went on to explain how people who have been preached to tend to shut down, where if you allow them to just experience the art without beating the message over their heads, they could come to their own conclusions.

“You may not be right, or you may only be partially right,” he continued. “That’s why you need to talk to a lot of people and find what’s right for a lot of people. When you do politics in a game, it should be something that occurs in a game, but not have a visible agenda.”

Pondsmith also spoke about the genre he works within, saying Cyberpunk was a warning, not an aspiration.

Cyberpunk 2077 was recently delayed, but it’s now coming out on November 19.

Here are the 8 best apolitical games.

Read this next