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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Eiji Aonuma Versus Developer Ideologies

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - But I LIKE using games for propaganda!

KoopaTV sometimes pretends that The Legend of Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma doesn't exist. If you search him up, we basically never mention him. His only real reference was with regards to his video message that The Legend of Zelda on Wii U would be delayed. He's probably the most low-key guy at Nintendo in proportion to his influence and position.

In an interview with Aonuma and the British gaming magazine GamesMaster, Aonuma stated,
“I haven’t and won’t be trying to put any message or meaning into the [Zelda] games. [...] Occasionally I receive messages from fans telling me how playing Zelda games has changed their lives. While of course this makes me incredibly happy to hear, I feel a great sense of responsibility as well, so part of me feels that developers putting their own ideologies in games is kind of scary.”
Of course, developers put their own ideologies into games all the time. It's become the norm at this point. Whether it be the ideology that abortion clinics should be plentiful and easy-to-access, the ideology that gun ownership among females should go up, or the ideology that Ron Paul is awesome, there is literally an entire sub-industry within gaming (“serious games”) that tries to persuade people of whatever message the developer/developer's client is pushing.

Of course, you don't need to dedicate the game to a particular message to still convey a message. There are ideologies that don't dominate the game experience being pushed as well. These include that cow segregation is a-okay, and that gun-free zones are a good idea.

Have The Legend of Zelda games pushed ideologies? Of course, whether they be the developer's or someone else's. It can be political ideologies, or even gameplay ideologies. Aonuma's boss, Shigeru Miyamoto, ruined Paper Mario: Sticker Star with his anti-character and anti-story ideology he explicitly pushed onto the game. Miyamoto also has an ideology that strong female characters don't make for natural stories, and you KNOW that's influenced the games he's worked on.

I can't say I know if Aonuma himself is responsible for anything, mostly because I don't know anything about the guy. As I said, low-key.

I just know that the folks at #gamergate are probably cheering for Aonuma. They hate ideology in gaming journalism, and they probably hate ideology in gaming. Just like I was against #gamergate for being against KoopaTV's very existence, I'm against #gamergate/Aonuma here.

Capture the Confederate Flag South Carolina capital game
Capture the Confederate Flag: Explicit ideology that the confederate flag should be shown in the South Carolina capital.

While I do dislike how the majority of videogames out there are pushing SOME kind of socialist, anti-freedom agenda, I don't think the answer to that is to say ideologies in general are scary. I think the answer is that liberty-loving people acknowledge that videogames and the creative industries in general are worth time and effort and investment. You fight ideas with ideas, and videogames can be a very potent medium to change people's opinions and attitudes. The social justice movement already figured this out a while ago, and are largely uncontested. They're also becoming successful in shutting down any semblance of disagreement with them.

You cannot take ideology out of game design, because games are designed by people who naturally let their biases and thoughts influence their art. Rather than try to self-censor your art and consciously look for and systematically remove these biases, you should just let the freedom flow. Your product will probably be better to your intended audience.

Of course, if Aonuma himself is just ideologically-neutral, then that doesn't apply. If #gamergate people read my above few paragraphs and thought, “Ludwig is advocating for total politicisation of gaming, which should just be for entertainment and free of this ideology crap!” that's not what I'm advocating for. We know that things like the news is politicised, as is television, movies, and every other medium. But not EVERY work of humanity is overtly trying to make a political statement or convince you of something. Everything is likely to have subtle influences, but you're free to reject them or not even notice them. There is a lot of stuff you enjoy out there that seems to be free of ideology at first or second glance, and that may be all the glances you take.

I put so many political references in KoopaTV articles, but there are lots of people (particularly non-Americans) for which those references just fly over their heads. Just because you read my articles every day doesn't mean you'll be converted into a far-right extremist against your will. That's silly. That's what the social justice movement believes and it's how low they think of individuals having control over their own lives. Media can influence, but not totally control you. 

Don't think it's scary, Aonuma. And don't deny whatever gets you going. Be you, and hopefully that gives a great game.

Ludwig is extremely far to the right on the political spectrum, but KoopaTV as a whole is Fair & Balanced. KoopaTV produces at least one game every year for your enjoyment, and these do have persuasive messaging to them. They're also super fun, first and foremost.

Some game developers can't stand even doing business with someone with a different ideology than them, which is messed up.
Aonuma wanting to avoid developers inserting their ideology into games is probably what got Nintendo out of an alliance dedicated to doing just that for the environment.


  1. So would you say this is like how the Ace Attorney series is a satire on the Japanese court system being extremely biased for defendants being convicted? This satire gets lost in translation during localization.

  2. Well as long and not inputting ideologies doesnt ruin the game, its fine by me

  3. "You cannot take ideology out of game design, because games are designed by people who naturally let their biases and thoughts influence their art."

    Exactly. I think to make a game COMPLETELY devoid of any sort of ideology, you'd almost have to remove the story from it. And even then, people might interpret a message in it.

    1. *giggle*

      It's so nice to see you affirmatively agree with me. :D

      (I interpreted a message when Shigeru Miyamoto DID remove the story from Sticker Star...)


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