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Thread: Epic Games Boss Thinks All Politics Should Be Removed From Game Companies

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    Epic Games Boss Thinks All Politics Should Be Removed From Game Companies


    In a keynote talk at the annual DICE summit this week, Epic Games' Tim Sweeney made sweeping statements about the inclusion of politics in video games, and his own views that video games should be published to a political "neutral ground" in terms of marketing. Tim Sweeney is the founder and CEO of Epic Games, a video game development company first launched in 1991, and one which now boats its own Epic Games Store, an online digital storefront, as of December of 2018.

    The Epic Games Store has earned quite a bit of backlash since its release. It serves as a direct competitor to Steam, another prominent digital distributor for PC games. Its practice of arranging Epic exclusivity deals with major new PC games like Borderlands 3 has alienated fans of Steam, who are pressured to download the platform in order to enjoy these titles. Furthermore, Tim Sweeney has openly criticized Steam's business practices, going so far as to suggest that these exclusivity arrangements would stop if Steam mended their ways. When it comes to the Epic Games Store, at least, Sweeney doesn't seem interested in backing away from controversy.

    This makes Sweeney's speech at this year's DICE summit all the stranger. In his keynote address, which was previously reported on by IGN, Tim Sweeney expressed his belief that politics should be kept as far away from video games as possible, at least from a business perspective. Sweeney began by discussing the classic 1960's novel To Kill a Mockingbird, and the profound impact it had on the political and moral views of its readers. He indicated that it would be viable for a video game to send a similarly impactful message, before changing lanes completely and offering a seemingly contradictory statement, calling for a "separation of church and state" with regards to politics and game companies. At one point he compared the issue of politics in video games to, of all things, the controversy surrounding Chik Fil-A and the anti-LGBTQ stance it has taken in the past. Sweeney said, “The world is really screwed up right now. Right now our political orientations determine which fast-food chicken restaurant you go to? And that’s really dumb." He added that “there’s no reason to drag divisive topics like that into gaming at all.”


    Sweeney attempted to clarify his statements later on Twitter in response to press coverage of his keynote speech. In the tweet, Sweeney claimed that if a game took after the aforementioned To Kill a Mockingbird and delivered a political message, that message should come from the "heart of creatives" and not from the marketers, who he feared would seek "to capitalize on division." While this doesn't seem quite in line with the sweeping statements he is quoted with from the keynote, it is a somewhat more reasonable stance to take.

    The overarching idea that video games should be kept free of politics is, of course, a ridiculous one. By drawing on real-world stories and experiences, political or otherwise, developers can deliver truly impactful stories and experiences. While writing politically-motivated stories for video games is sure to invite controversy, that's something that's tragically hard to avoid these days. At the same time, it's not hard to see the reasoning behind Sweeney's clarified statement on Twitter. In the wake of Blizzard's particularly controversial treatment of Hearthstone pro player Blitzchung following the latter's statements about the struggle in Hong Kong, the idea of politics being extricated from the marketing and distribution side of the video game industry has a certain appeal. Mitigating controversy is a noble goal, and while Epic Games CEO Sweeney's approach to achieving it may be a bit heavy-handed, it's at least an indicator of a conversation that's worth having.

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    Wholeheartedly agree.


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