While going through my Rook's Bailey blog entries, I rediscovered an entry that listed my five favorite conservative games from 2008. For the most part, I still stand by these nominations (one has changed... read the article to see why). What do you think? What are some of your favorite games that you would consider to be "conservative gaming"?
There has been a lot said about the manifest left-wing lunacy of Hollywood, but it has always struck me as very interesting that another portion of modern entertainment media, indeed, a portion that is beginning to eclipse Hollyweird itself, is largely free of preachy left-wing nonsense [starting to change in 2010! - ST]. No, I’m not referring to television; I’m speaking about gaming. Why is it that the average game is actually quite conservative in its outlook? Perhaps it’s because liberalism is just incompatible with the highly-competitive world of gaming (after all, how do you make a game where no one is allowed to do better than anyone else?)? Or maybe it’s just because gaming is still under the radar of the left (who has time to play a game when there is so much to protest in the world?!?)?
Here are my top five conservative games:
Why is it conservative? For me, it has to do with two reasons. First, it is the unrelenting and unabashed way in which the heroes of the Imperium, be it the elite Space Marines or the grunt Imperial Guard, seek the total defeat of their enemies. At a time when America is at war, it can be very refreshing to have a game that abandons the ‘politically correct warfare’ that so many in politics and media seek for us to adopt – no matter how much is harms our cause. I can assure you in the world of 40K, you won’t find the defenders of mankind weeping over a little water boarding or seeking a modus vivendi with their foes. For example, one of my favorite 40K quotes is found in Dawn of War (one of the PC versions of the game) where a Space Marine captain is want to shout “This is the judgment of the righteous!” as he guns down enemy upon enemy. Another great quote from that game is “Victory needs no explanation, defeat allows none.” And we can’t forget the truism “Success is measured in blood; yours or your enemy´s.” True. In a feminized world, 40K is testosterone-laden refuge of larger than life heroes who make it their life work to obliterate evil.
My second reason is the religious faith that binds the Imperium of Man. While some complain that the religiosity found in 40K has fascist overtones (a not inconsiderate point), I like to look on the brighter side (if there is a bright side in 40K!). The faith of mankind in the “Undying Emperor” is what binds a million disparate worlds in common cause against the hellish enemies that come out of the blackness of space (there’s no multiculturalism in 40K!). What is more, it is this faith that serves to inspire men of all walks to life to heroic deeds that faithless men would never be able to achieve. Again, some of my favorite quotes: “Fear denies faith!” It certainly does. And who could forget that “the difference between heresy and treachery is ignorance.” Lastly, “Educate men without faith and you but make them clever devils.” Good stuff!
Author's note: This is the game that I would remove from the list for the simple fact that WiC died an early death. Massive's publisher, Sierra, was sold to Activision who had no interest in this title. Ultimately, WiC was left without a publisher until Ubisoft acquired the franchise at the last minute. Unfortunately for WiC, it was too little, too late and died an early death for such a popular game.
My replacement would be Gearbox's Borderlands. If you want to learn why, read my editorial called Six Shooter Capitalism.
This capitalist economy has a very real impact on the players. For example, unlike other games where you are just given everything gratis, in EVE, players are forced to make a living and purchase everything they need. This makes for an interesting dynamic where, as in real life, the player is always on the make for a more lucrative job (be it as soldier, smuggler, manufacturer, trader, corporate CEO or any other occupation that a player finds to be profitable) so he can afford to purchase that bigger ship with better guns, a more efficient mining rig (don’t forget the insurance policy!) or those implants that are all the rage. In EVE, you quickly learn the value of a dollar, er…ISK, and the need to work hard to get where you want to be (so much so that you often see a lot of kids quit EVE because, as they put it: “this game is too much like a job!”).
Another reason why EVE is a conservative game is the story of CCP. A group of scrappy programmers committed to their vision, despite an underwhelming launch and some unfortunate publisher problems, CCP persisted with their dream and have succeeded in creating a landmark of MMO game design.
First and foremost, a quick glance at the two opposed chess armies will reveal a very ordered society in which everyone has a place fitting their abilities. You have the pawns, the most common of all the pieces (albeit, technically, a pawn is not a piece in chess lingo), which despite being on the lowest rung of society’s ladder, are nevertheless willing to form the first line of defense. And why shouldn’t they? While they are lowly, they possess the seeds of greatness within them that, after much hard work and bravery, can germinate and elevate the pawn to any other greater role short of the king himself! There’s a classic conservative lesson in that.
Let’s not forget the king and queen either. They stand side by side as they lead their armies, inspiring their soldiers with personal example. Also, they represent the strength of man and wife as one (politic) body, defending each other and the land. In short, the king and queen are the physical manifestation of harmonious civil governance.
Just to their left and right, we have loyal bishops advising the regal pair. Contrary to modern leftist thought, God-given right reason is essential to the functioning of any kingdom and we see that represented by the close proximity of the bishops to their betters.
Knights…well, what could possibly be more conservative than the image of the brave knight? Brave warriors sworn to God and King, the knight is the epitome of conservative manliness.
Then we have the Rooks. With the medieval influence upon chess, this former chariot has come to represent the classic medieval architecture of the castle – perhaps the closest the world has ever come to achieving the perfection of form and function. The rook represents the conservative notion that in truth, there is beauty.
Lastly, even the chess board is a reminder of conservative beliefs. Comprised of white and black squares, Chess is reminder that gray has no lasting place in the world of ideas.
And the #1 most conservative game is....
Created during the Great Depression, Monopoly was the brainchild of Charles B. Darrow. Initially, Mr. Darrow tried to sell the game to Parker Brothers, but they rejected it because of a reputed “52 design errors”. Undeterred like the good entrepreneur he was, Mr. Darrow sold 5,000 copies of the game to a department store soon thereafter. It proved so popular, that Mr. Darrow couldn’t keep up with the subsequent demand! Those initial sales were the beginning of a flood that has not ceased, totaling some 200 million copies to date!
What conservative wouldn’t like a game where you can become a millionaire by buying and selling real estate? Where you start with a modest house but work your way up to hotels and, ultimately, buy the whole neighborhood?!? For all its simplicity, Monopoly manages to capture the essence of American capitalism and entrepreneurship within its elegant confines. Simply, it is the American dream in a box!