5 Best Video Games (Used as Propaganda by Governments)

Categories: Gaming

I love propaganda.

No, really. I wholeheartedly love it when giant governments use enormous resources to try and fight a war of ideas instead of a war with guns. It's a hopeful sort of thing that led to stuff like the United States using Jackson Pollack paintings to show the folks behind the Iron Curtain that they were like so square man, and it helped in the freakin' Cold War.

Unfortunately, video games are not like other art forms, and fighting the war of ideas in this case usually means fighting it with the idea of way more guns. At least five, not inconsiderable powers have harnessed the might of the joystick in expressing their will.

United States
Did you know that America invented not only the concept of a video game console, but the first-person shooter genre as well? It's true, and we did it all the way back in the 1970's. Shed a bald eagle-shaped tear, fellow gamers, because we're awesome like that.

That was the private market, though. The government saw that sweet, sweet pull of shooters and asked, "Since they're blowing each other away anyway, could we just make a military recruitment video game?" Indeed they could, and the result is America's Army, one of the most successful recruitment campaigns ever devised by the United States military.

Since 2002 this high-end FPS has not only been a free download intended to help wind down the number of washouts in basic training by giving an ever more accurate look at Army life, it's been a consistent critical success. Seriously, it was one of the top ten most popular online shooters up until 2007, and they're still making updates today. Even more interesting, departments like the Secret Service are considering following suit, albeit only for internal use. So remember, when someone tells you that the government can't do anything right, tell them they can make a better FPS than Homefront.

A year after America's Army came out Hezbollah decided to give the idea a shot themselves in their campaign against Israel. Though it was a much smaller in scale attempt than ours (Let's face it, most things militarily are a smaller attempt than ours), Special Force and it's sequel still managed to find quite an audience in the Arab-speaking world.

It's not a great game. It runs on the inferior Genesis3D engine instead of the Unreal one like America's Army, and its design and graphics are nowhere near the quality of ours either. Still, it did sell out its initial run, and was playable in four different languages including English. The 2007 sequel was even better received, being closely based on the war Hezbollah had fought with Israel the previous year.

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