During a recent interview with Kotaku, Vice President of Editorial at Ubisoft Tommy Francois discussed his philosophy regarding politics in video games, stating that he believes games should “showcase” politics instead of being “preachy.”

The interview with Francois comes on the heels of a claim by Ubisoft Massive COO Alf Condelius that Ubisoft games “back away from those [modern political] interpretations as much as we can because we don’t want to take a stance in current politics,” which sparked a bit of outrage across numerous video game journalism outlets, including Gamesradar, RockPaperShotgun, and The Verge. (Related: Ubisoft Leaked Documents Reveal Social Justice Based Company Culture)

In the Kotaku interview, Francois admits that Ubisoft has not taken the politics in their game “far enough.”

“I was annoyed by the fact that we weren’t given more forgiveness for not being perfect. We know that. We know we de-scope. We know we’re not taking it far enough.”

However, Francois’ claim that politics in their games are not being taken “far enough” is not in reference to a desire to further push a specific political agenda or message. Rather, Francois argues, it is about “showcasing” different political perspectives instead of being “preachy.”

“We’re trying to take the company in the way of open-world, systemic, multiple points of views, emergent gameplay, emergent narrative, full autonomy, real life simulation, learn from what you’re doing, resonate with the systems of life. This is what we’re trying to achieve collectively. And it’s hard.”

Francois also states that rather than focusing on espousing one belief system or viewpoint the option to engage or not engage with these elements should be reliant on a player’s individual “agency.” (Related: Ubisoft Faces Backlash Over Forced Assassin’s Creed Odyssey DLC Ending)

“If some people want to have guns and play, that’s fine. If other people want to find other ways, that’s fine, too. If people just want to have fun and not engage with politics or the deeper meanings that may be available in these worlds, that has to be fine. It has to be all about agency.

[…]

“You’re in a group in the Division, if you don’t see it in the game, f*** it, have a political conversation. Why should I be responsible for everything? The Division can be a wonderful backdrop to talk politics while you’re playing. You can enable these types of conversations. I don’t want to author anyone or anything. I don’t like being authored in life.”

Francois’ statements echo the sentiment of statements made by Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot last year in the wake of claims that The Division 2 was “not making any political statements.” Clarifying these comments, Guillemot told The Guardian:

“Our goal in all the games we create, is to make people think. We want to put them in front of questions that they don’t always ask themselves automatically. We want players to listen to different opinions and to have their own opinions. Our goal is to give all the tools to the player in order for them to think about the subjects, to be able to see things from far enough away.

[…]

So [the player is] part of it, you speak with people who have a different opinion from your own, you test different things, so you can improve your vision of that subject – that’s what we want to do. We don’t want to say, ‘Do that, think like this … ’ our goal is to make sure, after playing, you’re more aware.”

Ultimately, it appears that Ubisoft and Francois are looking to expand their political theming, but present them in a way that allows for players to form their own opinions rather than be browbeaten by a specific political belief, and is looking to the future of video game technology to advance that goal. (Related: Ubisoft Producer Calls for Industry Blacklisting of PewDiePie)

“We’re trying to take the company in the way of open-world, systemic, multiple points of views, emergent gameplay, emergent narrative, full autonomy, real life simulation, learn from what you’re doing, resonate with the systems of life. This is what we’re trying to achieve collectively. And it’s hard.”

 

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About The Author

Spencer is a contributing reporter for Bounding Into Comics. Unabashed anime fan, life-long comic book reader, avid video game player, and in need of a separate house for all of his figures. Trying to sift through the noise to bring the readers the facts.

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