Friday, January 18, 2013

6 Video Games Every Libertarian Should Play

Until recently, popular storytelling was an essentially top-down art: Novelists told readers how characters thought and felt, playwrights determined what they said, and movie directors subjected captive viewers to their own individual visions. The story you saw was the story someone else imagined, and audience interaction was limited to throwing tomatoes at the stage, or scribbling in the margins of a book. Even popular sports were basically passive: Fans might follow along in great detail, but the plays and their outcomes were determined by the actions of an elite few on the field.

But for the last 40 years, video games have begun to change all that. Games were built around interactivity: Players got what they wanted, not what someone else gave them. And as the technological firepower that makes video games possible has grown cheaper and more abundant, those games have increasingly focused on complex choice architectures designed to let players make their own stories. Game designers still build the playing fields, and some are more constrictive than others. But the arc of game design has bent toward expanding player choice. You are at the center of the experience, and you make it your own. The star of the show isn’t some writer or actor or player on the screen. The star is you.

It’s probably too much to argue that video games offer players freedom from the iron grip of the author—after all, games still have designers, and the old stories weren’t exactly forced upon their readers. But the rise of video games as a popular art form is surely a sign of the way that the broad universalized stories of yesterday have fractured into an array of niche narratives, each designed to serve an individualized interest.

All of which make video games of special interest to libertarians interested in the way the combination of technology, political freedom, and evolving social attitudes has resulted in an explosion of subculture interests and alternative modes of entertainment. So it’s not particularly surprising, then, to find that a number of video games have built in ideas and concepts that resonate with libertarians—sometimes positively, sometimes critically. As the current generation of game systems begins its final year, it’s worth looking back at six games of particular interest to those who like their minds and their markets to be free.

Full article: … libertarian-should-p

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