Models of Politics and Society in Video Games

Models of Politics and Society in Video Games

Tobias Bevc (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-781-7.ch004
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Abstract

This essay will deal with the question of which models of social policy and social structures can be found in video games. It will examine the relationship between these models, the stories (narrations) provided by the games, and the stories and models created by the players themselves. This examination will be followed by a discussion of two types of virtual models of social politics and social structures. In this discussion, light will be shed on the different models of social policy and social structures that appear in the context of video games. In analyzing these models within games, the question is not whether video games have an influence. Rather, the question is what may children and adolescents learn from “off-the-shelf” video games with respect to political education, political socialization and the forming of political identity?
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Why Are Video Games So Attractive: Motivation Of Play And Political Socialization

The models and structures of politics in video games are of great importance as they contribute to the forming of a political identity by their recipients. The main issues in popular video games are power, supremacy and control.1 These are the components that render video games attractive for the players and make them play these games (Fritz, 2005; cf. for games in general Oerter, 1999, pp. 210-218). Further factors, which Klimmt has shown as pivotal for the entertainment experience in video games, are self-efficacy, the principle of suspense and resolution, and the simulated experience of life (Klimmt, 2006a, pp. 75-115; cf. for self-efficacy: Bandura, 1997).2 With the first factor, self-efficacy, the player learns while playing that his actions make the determining difference, i.e. that his actions and decisions are the deciding factor of the further development of the game the player is playing, that he is the decisive factor in failing or succeeding. The second factor signifies that the game itself is a continuing process of building up suspense through the events in the game itself. The player is forced to develop a strategy to resolve the problems and to achieve a solution of the problem by employing it. This then results in the resolution of the suspense through the successful utilization of his strategy. The third factor, the simulated experience of life, offers the player the possibility to take an interactive role in the game. This model, derived from developmental psychology, provides the players with the opportunity to assume different identities and to act accordingly. Thus, roles can be assumed that may not be attainable in reality, such as the roles of Cowboy, Alien or Star; or may only be attainable in adulthood, e.g. the role of a parent (cf. Klimmt, 2006a, pp. 95-102; cf. Oerter, 2000, pp. 50-52).

A further factor of playing video games, which is often mentioned with reference to Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG), is the communal life aspect of the social contacts that can be won and cultivated. This aspect will be discussed in more detail later in this chapter.

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