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Military games can’t pretend to be apolitical anymore without looking ridiculous

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Imagine releasing a game, right now, about shooting extremists on the streets of Washington D.C. and then saying, with a straight face, that the backdrop of America’s capital was just a fun setting to play around with in a videogame. Imagine ending a game trailer in 2021 with the line “So, game plan: Take the Capitol back?” as a paramilitary squad geared up with tactical vests, assault rifles and grenade launchers charge a heavily fortified Capitol Building, American flag still flying over the gate.

We all know exactly what real-world events that scene would evoke today—but it was still ridiculous in 2018 when The Division 2 debuted at E3 and creative director Terry Spier said “we’re definitely not making any political statements.” His next line in that interview is the one that really gets me, now: “This is still a work of fiction, right?”

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