Games and Politics was an interactive exhibition from the Goethe-Institut, centred around the inherent politics that exist within and around games and gaming culture.
It would be impossible to deny the influence that gaming has upon our culture. Gaming is absolutely political: its formula alone is a good example of this, often designed and based on political, moral codes that we carry within ourselves. How we view right/wrong, good/bad, gender, culture, our systemic values are reflected in games and the games reflect back upon us.
Do games have the potential to challenge political views and deconstruct somewhat toxic ingrained ideologies? This can be problematic and Games and Politics addresses this, opening up and exploring a new paradigm. If gaming does in fact possess this power, why don’t we encourage the gamer to understand real issues and challenges through this influential platform? Gaming requires the participant to experience life through the eyes of a character in a created/different environment, meaning that there is plenty of potential to alter and shift views through this medium.
Games and Politics allowed the audience to participate in a variety of different games, exploring and educating on various political issues such as gender inequality, racism and the economic and environmental crisis. It transported the gamer into an environment where they must question dominant narratives and political beliefs/ideologies that they may hold.
One particular issue in the exhibition was the question of representation within games. It is important to acknowledge that gaming is no longer exclusively for white, straight cis teenage boys. Everyone plays games now, but the lack of gender, cultural and sexual diversity within games has been and is still highly problematic. This needs to change and it is empowering to see that there are artists/game designers in Games and Power addressing this.
Games and Politics offered compelling content, especially when considering alongside the rhetoric of commercial, accessible games. The show offered plenty of games to play and kept me engaged, challenged and inspired, simultaneously giving me a positive outlook on what the future of gaming could look like.
The Physics Room, Games and Politics. An interactive exhibition by the Goethe-Institut, in cooperation with ZKM | Centre for Art and Media 16 August – 23 September