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#1 Posted by Purple_Proletarius (170 posts) -

At the moment I can't think of one, although I'm not saying there aren't any. The closest I can think of is Bioshock, but I never finished it and from what I did play, it didn't seem to be unique in its message. Like I said though, I didn't finish it.  
 
It's kind of disappointing, because I feel like games can't be regarded as a serious artistic medium until developers learn to integrate intelligent explorations into the experience. At the same time, it's promising to see the quality of storytelling take large strides with games like Mass Effect and Enslaved.

#2 Posted by Regal (434 posts) -

Noby Noby Boy is a brilliant commentary on the arduousness and frustrations of young adulthood, losing a father and regaining hope in life.  
I tell you I can not play that game without getting a tear in my eye.

Online
#3 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4240 posts) -
@Purple_Proletarius:  The thing that prevents me from coming up with some examples is your use of "significant," since that could wiggle in either direction.  Games tend to live or die based on popularity and gameplay, too, so you may have some games that go a little too far in the commentary direction and wind up alienating people, cutting into their potential audience and making them less well known.  Some are even reviled for being too preachy, especially if they don't have the gameplay to back it up.
#4 Posted by Jimbo (9863 posts) -

AAA games are the summer blockbusters of the industry.  You are looking at the wrong games.

#5 Posted by Yummylee (22039 posts) -

The Metal Gear Solid games. They're all essentially about throwing messages of morality through your face.

#6 Posted by Icicle7x3 (1188 posts) -

Pikmin, think about it.

#7 Posted by ThatFrood (3377 posts) -
@Abyssfull said:
" The Metal Gear Solid games. They're all essentially about throwing messages of morality through your face. "
pfffahahahaahahahahahahahahaaha
 
Also, I suppose Deus Ex.
#8 Posted by onarum (2145 posts) -
@Regal said:
" Noby Noby Boy is a brilliant commentary on the arduousness and frustrations of young adulthood, losing a father and regaining hope in life.  I tell you I can not play that game without getting a tear in my eye. "
Indeed, I can also see a harsh critique on the proxy like effect of technology on 21st century society in that game, really masterful.
Online
#9 Posted by Yummylee (22039 posts) -
@ThatFrood said:
" @Abyssfull said:
" The Metal Gear Solid games. They're all essentially about throwing messages of morality through your face. "
pfffahahahaahahahahahahahahaaha  "
..was it something I said? D=
#10 Edited by jasondaplock (263 posts) -

Gaming is not an auteur medium. Movies, books, and the like can do things like jab at society or policy because it possible for a single person to be in creative control of the work. Even most indie games are such a colossal effort to create mechanically that any edge or bite to their design is dulled by the time they are completed. Holding the idea ahead of gameplay is suicide, so developers opt to work for gameplay (most of the time). 
 
My strongest off-the-dome examples would be Tropico, Metro 2033, the recent GTA games, and MGS4.

#11 Posted by Joeybagad0nutz (1438 posts) -

Assassin Creed brotherhood.

#12 Posted by KaosAngel (13765 posts) -

Stephen Colbert's future game that's due out in 2011 will have it.

#13 Posted by MoonlightMoth (473 posts) -

50 Cent: Blood on the Sand.

#14 Posted by mnzy (2915 posts) -

Minesweeper. War on Terror. Think about it.

#15 Posted by Purple_Proletarius (170 posts) -
@Jimbo said:
" AAA games are the summer blockbusters of the industry.  You are looking at the wrong games. "
Which are the right ones? 
 
@ahoodedfigure
said:
" @Purple_Proletarius:  The thing that prevents me from coming up with some examples is your use of "significant," since that could wiggle in either direction.  Games tend to live or die based on popularity and gameplay, too, so you may have some games that go a little too far in the commentary direction and wind up alienating people, cutting into their potential audience and making them less well known.  Some are even reviled for being too preachy, especially if they don't have the gameplay to back it up. "
Merging enjoyable gameplay with sophisticated storytelling is very, very difficult. Which is why it hasn't been successfully attempted.
#16 Posted by prestonhedges (1965 posts) -

Games can't exactly report on what is happening in the world in a meaningful way, so no.
 
But really the answer is: Comix Zone.

#17 Posted by MooseyMcMan (11276 posts) -
@Abyssfull said:
" The Metal Gear Solid games. They're all essentially about throwing messages of morality through your face. "
It's from those games that I learned not to trust nano-machines. Or vampires. 
Moderator
#18 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4240 posts) -
@Purple_Proletarius:  Well I would argue that it may well have been, but because I don't know what you think is significant it's hard to say very much beyond that.
#19 Posted by Joeybagad0nutz (1438 posts) -
@KaosAngel said:
"Stephen Colbert's future game that's due out in 2011 will have it. "

O_O Don't give me a heart attack on false information.....please tell me this is real....
#20 Posted by Yummylee (22039 posts) -
@MooseyMcMan said:
" @Abyssfull said:
" The Metal Gear Solid games. They're all essentially about throwing messages of morality through your face. "
It's from those games that I learned not to trust nano-machines. Or vampires.  "
That's why we should be thankful! Won't be learnin any da shiz from skool!
#21 Posted by TheBlindChessman (241 posts) -

The best political/social commentary in video games can probably be found on the radio staions in the GTA games. 
 
As a whole I's say that the GTA series has the best stab at it, but it's not something that games have done well.

#22 Posted by Skald (4369 posts) -

Bioshock, Metal Gear and Ace Combat. They're all anti-something-or-another.

#23 Posted by Jimbo (9863 posts) -
@Purple_Proletarius said:
" @Jimbo said:
" AAA games are the summer blockbusters of the industry.  You are looking at the wrong games. "
Which are the right ones?"
Fuck if I know, but you aren't gonna find it in a AAA game anymore than you'll find it in Transformers 2 (Bioshock being the possible exception that proves the rule).  Indie games sometimes try it at least, though I still don't know if I'd go as far as to call it 'significant'.  Try reading Rock, Paper, Shotgun; they love that shit.
#24 Edited by GhostlyEnigma (253 posts) -
@Jimbo said:

" AAA games are the summer blockbusters of the industry.  You are looking at the wrong games. "

Most, but not all.
 
To Answer The OP's Question: 
  •  BioShock
  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • Metal Gear Solid franchise (Behind all the wackiness of the plot, the game provides a preachy anti-nuke message)
  • Modern Warfare 2 (It provides political commentary, in the most nonsensical form one can imagine in a military themed shooter)
  • Fallout 3
#25 Posted by Manatassi (791 posts) -

This seems close to the games as art discussion that gets thrown about allot. It really depends how you want to look at the situation. Most games are conduits for wish fulfilment, in and of themselves giving a commentary on the sections of society that play them. However this is an indirect way of looking at them and they weren't designed with a social or political statement in mind.
 
There are some notable exceptions to the rule if you look for them.  For instance the interesting focus the "would you kindly" aspect of Bioshock placed on our tendency as players to blindly follow the instructions that we are given within the structure of a game. Metal Gear Solid lays on the rather heavy handed and over laboured anti war message but it is still there as a political statement, I guess. There are some interesting ideas littered around the industry they are just well hidden.
  
Really other than the typically preachy attempts at simple morality commentary made by some Japanese mainstream games you would be best served by diving into the indie development scene.   
 
On the other hand there is the point that \Games are better served by inserting their political and social commentary subtly within the game and making it less obvious. Unlike Films that occupy a relatively short amount of time and can be clear and direct within the short time given, games are worlds. Crafting a world with a particular message in mind could easily break the whole experience. The best example of Games with a social message wound into the world itself would be second world war shooters.  
 
Often touted as being historically accurate second world war shooters have far more in common with the propaganda of the time than any actual accurate and un bias look at the people involved in the world. Its easy and easy for us to accept. All Nazi's were automatically evil thus shooting hundreds of them is a completely guiltless experience. Its a two dimensional world that simply does not reflect reality. Come to think of it even games like modern warfare are based around modern day propaganda ideals. Terrorists are all bad with evil intentions thus its ok to shoot them.  
 
Actually I take it all back. Most AAA games are incredibly successful at commenting on one extremely important aspect of Politics and Society. 
 
Humans are incredibly good at dehumanising other humans in order to aleviate any sensation of guilt they feel at killing other humans.  
 
Also Zombies are the perfect Metaphor for the way we perceive "Enemies" .  
 
In conclusion....    Er Zombies are the ultimate game device and Zombie games win?!?!?!

#26 Posted by Purple_Proletarius (170 posts) -
@ahoodedfigure said:
" @Purple_Proletarius:  Well I would argue that it may well have been, but because I don't know what you think is significant it's hard to say very much beyond that. "
Alright, if I define significant as unique, thought-provoking, and not an afterthought, what would you say?
#27 Posted by Deeveeus (479 posts) -

MGS 1 (War be bad)
Bioshock (Science for the sake of science...among others)
Shadow of the Colossus (personal need and greed)
 
there are more I'm sure...I just don't want to think at said moment. You won't find scathing satire in games yet like you will in movies or books, the medium is still to young

#28 Posted by TaccyP (307 posts) -

I disapprove of this thread.

#29 Posted by Manatassi (791 posts) -
@TaccyP said:
" I disapprove of this thread. "
I disapprove therefore I am.... 
 
 
Meta.... or is it? 
 
do de do de....
#30 Posted by Everyones_A_Critic (6305 posts) -

Dead Rising has a few subtle jabs at the obesity epidemic in America as well as American consumerism but it's nothing you can't find in Dawn of the Dead.

#31 Posted by Purple_Proletarius (170 posts) -
@Jimbo: I wasn't speaking solely of high-budget titles, those just happened to be what I came up with, although that's where I think it's going to have to come from. 
 
@GhostlyEnigma:
 I'm going to disagree with all of those if we're going to use my definition of significant. But I'm curious to hear what you feel Fallout invokes. 
 
@Manatassi:
 I've played my share of indie titles over the years and while I admire the effort, it always returns to the issue of crafting an engaging product without the benefit of a budget. And while I don't disagree with the "indirect" argument, I feel that's some weak meta bullshit. 
 
Interestingly enough I just watched this video :
And while many are probably sick of the "It Gets Better" blitz, I think it's important to note that developers have responses and philosophies too. I just want to see more of them in games.
#32 Posted by Brians (1464 posts) -

Bioshock?

#33 Posted by TaccyP (307 posts) -

I mean seriously. Everything is a commentary on something. Games have been commenting on society since their inception. Just because it's not spelled out as blatantly as in a game like Metal Gear Solid, where that game literally, fucking literally preaches to you about the badness of war, doesn't mean it's not there.
 
Donkey Kong is a commentary on Communism.
 
 Think about it.

#34 Posted by Purple_Proletarius (170 posts) -
@TaccyP: Sarcasm or not, I'd like to know how Donkey Kong is commentary on Communism.
#35 Posted by roc_553 (210 posts) -

I'm surprised that Beyond Good and Evil hasn't come up. 

#36 Posted by SammydesinasNL (840 posts) -

Red Dead Redemption definatly shows a good story regarding good/evil and how industrialisation has changed both our views of nature and the people around us.
#37 Posted by GhostlyEnigma (253 posts) -
@Purple_Proletarius said:
"@GhostlyEnigma: I'm going to disagree with all of those if we're going to use my definition of significant. But I'm curious to hear what you feel Fallout invokes."
Here are some examples: 
  • BioShock: Stem cell research
  • Fallout 3 (And the entire series in general): Resource and energy consumption.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV: Soulless capitalism
  • Metal Gear Solid franchise: WAR IZ BAD!!!!
  • Modern Warfare 2: PATRIOTISM IZ BAD!!!!
#38 Posted by MatPaget (1121 posts) -

Donkey Kong Country.
See the Kongs represent anarchy, and the Kremlings represent establishment, and Rambi... well he's just a rhino

#39 Edited by AngriGhandi (784 posts) -

One of the problems with this idea (aside from the fact that most major games are very high-budget, risk-averse projects), is that the few games that do attempt to convey deeper messages do so in a way that's largely irrelevant to the actual gameplay.

Bioshock doesn't actually play like a Randian parable, it plays like System Shock. Metal Gear Solid may be anti-war, pro- "choose life and live" in its themes, but it sure doesn't penalize you much for snapping fifty fuckin' necks.

What will be really interesting is when more designers come up with a way to express the "message" of their games through the rules of the gameplay itself. That's the unique artistic potential that video games represent - the ability to convey a message through rules and consequences. And, to allow you to have an experience of your own, within those rules, at the same time.

What's really weird is that Missile Command pretty much did this 30 years ago, and was also a totally awesome game.

#40 Posted by supermike6 (3586 posts) -

If you look hard enough, you can see messages in everything. Same with video games. Look at Modern Warfare 2. Yeah, most of the story is completely bonkers, but the story of General Shepard could be taken as a parable for the idea that 9-11 was staged by the US government. Not saying it was intended that way, but that's how some people took it. 
 
So, yes. Every game.

#41 Posted by bybeach (4893 posts) -

First  Deus Ex had long political/sociial arguements, usually to posit  something. What was so unusual was the setting, a collection of conspiracy theories such  and fringe beliefs, such as aliens. These in-story became mainstream, and it was pretty intelligent setting for the game, rather than just making things loonytune. Thus black helicopters, UN  new Order world domination, secret societies, good old evil plotters, and Greys from (maybe) another planet comprised the background. Within this framework were sometimes longish political arguements that deal with the issues we actually care about now, say individual freedoms vs the needs of the many, or how best to rule people for their true good,  say by a benevolent dictator, or by near anarchy, or by other means. I know it's beat to death and everyone has been exposed to how deus Ex works, but this helped make Deus Ex one of the best games I ever played. It's RPG style, plot, and freedom in this world to choose also of course contributed.
#42 Posted by GravityProof (282 posts) -

No

#43 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4240 posts) -
@Purple_Proletarius: 
"Thought provoking" depends on who is doing the thinking, and I have no way of knowing if something is an afterthought or not, but the unsuccessful Haze made ham-fisted commentary about war propaganda, how it clouds the mind and makes you insensitive to what's going on around you; Braid was about something, and therefore people had a knee-jerk reaction against it: people who've finished it say it was about the emotional entanglements of losing someone you love; A Mind Forever Voyaging was about the implications of artificial intelligence; Photopia was about the subjective experience of loss; Virtual Jihadi is a counterpoint to the hooray destroy-the-arabs style of FPS; Passage is about life in general I guess, since whatever you choose there are consequences; One Chance also underscores consequences, since you can't actually play the game again (without getting into system files or something equally involved).  
 
All these wind up being my interpretations, or my interpretations of others' impressions, since political and social discussions tend to allow for multiple perspectives. I think if you only look at the mainstream stuff, what you'll usually find is the kind of material sort of tailor made NOT to bother people, or to bolster unadventurous majority opinions, often in bland ways that will alienate the fewest amount of people so they can get the biggest sales figures.  There are plenty of games out there that are challenging in just the ways you describe, but there will always be a bit of a backlash against such games because some people use games to ESCAPE those sorts of discussions. They use them to have fun and nothing more, and get a bit irritated when they're challenged in this way.  Hell, I'm like that sometimes--  sometimes I just want to let off some steam and not be preached to.  But I don't think limiting game narratives is a good idea, since games can run the gamut if people will let them.
 
 It's a bit exhausting to go through the games I've played or heard about, though, and try to imagine whether or not you might find their content significant.  It's best for you to just dive in to video game media and read about stuff that's making headlines but isn't part of the usual crowd of releases.  You'll find such games, since people are definitely making them, but it helps to look in places that are likely to talk about them.  Rock Paper Shotgun and Destructoid tend to cover stuff that doesn't just rack up sales figures, for example.
#44 Posted by owl_of_minerva (1455 posts) -

-Bioshock franchise
-Fallout franchise
-GTA franchise
-Assassin's Creed franchise
-Red Dead Redemption
-Beyond Good & Evil
-countless adventure games such as Beneath a Steel Sky, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
-DEFCON
-Braid
-Bully
-Red Faction franchise
-management/political simulators
-Dead Rising franchise

#45 Posted by EchoForge (154 posts) -

Civilization pretty much forces all this stuff, doesn't it? That depending on the government and even thw wonders you build, you get different buffs with particular social values maybe tied to them.

#46 Posted by MarkM (295 posts) -
@mnzy: That is all I needed this morning. Thank you, sir.
 
On the topic. 
 
It is actually very easy to make great video games with engrossing, compelling and relevant stories.... why aren't there more of them? Let's run though a pitch meeting where your average Acme game studio meets with some high powered investors or even publisher reps.....
 
 "Our game has a slow burn story about a man who is on the brink of discovering a cure for cancer but his troubles at home and with his wife are getting to him and he must find a way to bridge the two extremes of his life"
 
[The execs look at each other]
 
Executive 1: Does it have Space Marines?
 
"Well, not really. It's not that kind of game"
 
Executive 2: What kind of multiplayer experience are you guys envisioning for this?
 
"None? Why would there be multiplayer in a--"
 
Executive 1: Can you go ahead and take a small step to your right?
 
"Sure. Right here?"
 
Executive 1: That'll do. 
 
[Exec 1 pulls a lever which lowers a vat of boiling water on to the game developer]
 
Executive 2:  I think I got something. Call of Duty: Cart Racers.
 
[The two executives smile menacingly at each other]
 
The end. 
 

 
 

#47 Posted by jlaudio7 (326 posts) -
@MatPaget said: 

" Donkey Kong Country. See the Kongs represent anarchy, and the Kremlings represent establishment, and Rambi... well he's just a rhino "


This.  
#48 Posted by BeachThunder (12087 posts) -

Despite the fact I didn't really think the game was that great, Beyond Good and Evil would probably be the best answer. It very explicitly fits this theme; an evil government spewing political propaganda and an underground rebel group aiming to expose the truth. In fact, given the current situation with Wikileaks, this game seems sort of pertinent.

#49 Posted by Chirag4 (585 posts) -

Check out some indie games;  http://db.tigsource.com/ 
You might be interested in:  

  • Everyday The Same Dream
  • One Chance
  • Braid
  • flower (I suppose it could be interpreted in a way that provides social commentary)
#50 Posted by Guided_By_Tigers (8061 posts) -
@MarkM: What about Abadox?