Russia Sponsors Pro-Russia Games

Yes, it's  Bicycle.

Lack26 spotted this in the Telegraph, and it’s interesting. Basically, the Russian Ministry of Communication has requested 500 million roubles (or 10.8 million quid) to develop six patriotic games, mainly about the patriotic war, because they think the games industry is overwhelmingly slanted towards presenting Russians as dodgy. As Youth Policy Committee member Pavel Zyryanov puts it to the Telegraph…

What we need is more programmers who have a patriotic education, who are on the right ideological level… Computer games today are part of a vital ideological platform that effects the consciousness of our young people. They learn history, they adopt values, and it’s important that this process is given a pro-Russian background.

More below, including quotes about Bears on Unicycles…

What was that about bears, Mr Zyryanov?

In other genres, the games tend to simply ridicule Russia with images of bears riding unicycles down the street, and I mean, come on, this just doesn’t correspond to reality.

This is true.

What to make of it? Honestly, I’m a little mixed. Yeah, government funded propaganda, obviously, and almost cute in how it’s stated so plainly. They’re not even doing basic PR-message hiding of “We think gamers need a more balanced view of Russia, etc, etc” which I suspect most Western-governments trying the same thing would do. The first step of propaganda is hiding that you’re performing propaganda, surely?

On the other hand, they’ve kind of got a point. To paraphrase Grant Morrison’s line, America is the first Empire to rule the world with light. I’d argue that by far the largest proportion of real-world-set games have a firm pro-American slant. And if it has a pro-American slant, it looks for its enemies where it can find it, and tends towards demonising or ridiculing them. Hence, Russia’s treatment. It’s made for America, then sold to the world. And I do think the media people process helps provides the building blocks for interacting with the world. The narratives we use matter, and the narrative games sell tends to be pretty hard on the Russians.

To put it another way: advertising works.

I’ll stress, this is me seeing what the Russians are thinking here rather than agreeing with their responses or the idea that Russia is totally unfairly stereotyped. There’s certainly justifications for painting Russia dark. Russia can be a very scary place, as anyone who’s followed Anna Politkovskaya will know. But there’s justification for painting America in darker tones too, and that rarely happens in media – and in games especially.

The main problem here is that I doubt it’ll work. People working in Commercial Russian Development have motivation to produce games which are acceptable to the (more profitable, at least on a per-unit basis) Western Market and 10 million quid is a barely a ripple in the mountains of development.

I suppose the one good thing about this is that it’s another example of a governmental body actually taking games seriously enough to consider in policy.


  1. Divebomb says:

    1C definitely do a couple of very positive russian historic type games each year. love it

    • RoteByrd says:

      yes and no.Russia has the highest male suicide rate in the world (or did when I had that geography class 3 years back.). I doubt this specific endeavor will specifically do much to ease that over job creation and so on, but they’re drowning in it over there.

    • RoteByrd says:

      oops, I meant to reply to Daniel below.

  2. Daniel Rivas says:

    Hmm. My initial reaction is that perhaps the Russian government has better things to spend its money on than a collective ego-boost.

    I see this as similar to those RT ads that showed up in newspapers a few months ago.

    Ah well. Maybe we’ll get something good out of it.

    • madU says:

      It’s not just “ego boosting” it’s called propaganda. It is only natural that Russia wants to counter the chauvinistic American mentality in video games because they influence the Russian youth. So they make their own games, it’s just the logical step.

      Either way, the constant sausage fests the blatant chauvinism in video games annoys me extremely. They should keep their politics and indoctrination out of my games….*sigh*

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      I can’t help feeling this was plucked out of the air and then drawn up on the back of a napkin after someone mildly important noticed the content of popular videogames and said, “We need to do something! You! Make me look good!”.

      I know literally nothing about Russian politics, but stuff like this strikes me as less the work of evil propaganda geniuses and more the effort of someone pumping out ideas until something sticks. Maybe I’m just getting cynical, in my young age.

      Bonus quote, from The Thick Of It:
      “We could say we’re going to throw ten million at it, that’ll go down well.”
      “Yes, that’s good. Because it sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?”

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      To be fair, a lot of western games do have Russia or ‘xxxxx-istan near russian’ as the enemy. I guess it’s the old thing of just not understanding each other.

      But I agree with Daniel Rivas, it probably was just plucked out the air by some low level Russian office guy.

    • Jeremy says:

      Come on, it’s a little unfair to call them “chauvinistic American” mentalities when in fact, about *92.7% of the world operates in that manner.

      *Randomly generated percentage

  3. bookwormat says:

    I would be more concerned about russian propaganda games, or about the many US propaganda games that are out there.

    But lucky for me, the stories in these types of games are mostly very bad and more or less irrelevant to the actual game. For example, I liked the “Modern Warfare 2” campaign, but I have no idea who is who and what I fighting for. I just enjoy the ride on rails and I shoot at the people who I’m supposed to shoot.

    I’m not saying MW2 is a propaganda game. I’m just saying I have no idea what it is about. Just like I have no idea what Half Life 2 is about, honestly.

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      Modern Warfare 2 is an interesting one, underneath all the globe-trotting gibberish and nonsensical Russian shooting the ultimate enemy is an American looking to increase US defence spending by provoking conflict with the auld enemy.

  4. Bullwinkle says:

    This is bullshit. Games need *more* bears on unicycles, not fewer.

  5. The LxR says:

    This story is actually an end to a longer, more twisted story, of how the Russian game developer companies have created somewhat a developers wokers union. From what it looks, we’ve got all reasons to believe, that 1C is going to develop games on the scale and quality of IL-2 Shturmovik and such, only in differenet genres.
    Or they’ll suddenly make Modern Warfare 3, where every sotryline bad for Russia is explained by undercover alien lesbians from Pluto.

  6. Lanster27 says:

    The picture doesn’t show an unicycle, but a bicycle instead.

  7. Scio says:

    I was under the impression that on Russian streets, the unicycles ride the bears?


    However—if I look just outside of direct propaganda—Allods Online is a rather nice mmo with Russian characters of the “pro” variety. In has the “con” variety covered too; the factions are unusual at that respect. Perhaps it’s far too simplistic, or perhaps just subtler.

    (Imagine how Germany feels…)

    • Rich says:

      “Imagine how Germany feels…”
      Particularly since a lot of game (and film) makers don’t really care if the language used by the enemy makes any sense. Most of their audience speaks English, so it doesn’t matter if the German soldiers are spouting gibberish.

    • stahlwerk says:

      (Imagine how Germany feels…)

      The fact that the baddies in WW2 games are german 99%* of the times has actually not entered the public debate in germany yet. It is still all about “Gewaltspiele” (violent games) and the effect on the young male demographic, not who you inflict virtual Gewalt upon**. I hope this russian initiative doesn’t give them any ideas…

      *) number made up on the spot by statist-o-spot™
      **) two exceptions: the depiction of the swastika flag, as well as other things like nazi propaganda songs is highly restricted, which also applies to games. also: blood, gore and kill cameras are frowned upon by the committee that sets the ratings.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      … @ Stahlwerk…

      Banned because they may get excited and start the Holocaust version©™ 2.0 right?

      Crazy german bastards.

      No I’m sorry but really,
      from what I understand the German people (for the most part) are incredibly ashamed of what their country and countrymen did.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      (Imagine how Germany feels…)

      Well, yes; welcome to not being American. Even the British occasionally suffer from it (who usually gets the British accent? The bad guy).

      It’s far worse for those of us outside the UK, though.

    • Ian says:

      @ Alexander Norris: I’m not sure what you mean, old boy. *beats a puppy with his cane*

    • jeremypeel says:

      Enter creepy Watson…

  8. Divebomb says:

    cold war setting Death to Spies is a good start :O~

  9. Lack_26 says:

    I like that they’re being open at least. They do have a point, I’m not entirely convinced the American entertainment industry realises that they’re not still fighting the Russians (to be fair, most of the people in in grew up in the cold-war so it was pretty defining in their ‘enemies what it’s alright to shoot’ list), and America hasn’t really acquired and other proper super-power enemies (although there are games about shooting the Chinese).

    Also, I feel cheated that we’re not being made aware of these games which have Russian bears riding uni-cycles down the street, this sounds like an important genre of games that we’re missing out on.

    • Stromko says:

      Considering their human rights records– and I don’t mean little things like beating protesters or killing journalists, I mean things like shooting Buddhist monks in the back en masse when they go on pilgrimages, or executing drug addicts– there aren’t nearly enough games about killing Chinese soldiers.

      China’s a big market, so no commercial game says anything too negative about China. Russia, though? I think the publishers figure most of the games there are pirated anyway so developers can do what they want with them, even though they’re not that bad in the grand scheme of things. Sure their current presidential dynasty is clearly owned by mafia oil cartels and they murder journalists and other malcontents, but on the global good/evil axis they’re practically neutral.

  10. Rinox says:

    While I am allergic to any sort of nationalistic propaganda (outside of sports, to some extent) plans, especially when they’re state funded, it is a fact that Russians almost always get the short end of the stick in mainstream (American?) Western entertainment media. So I can understand where they’re coming from.

    But don’t expect too much from those game. This is the country that showcases its ex-soon-to-be-again-president-and-current-prime-minister as a tough outdoorsman in a series of rather homoerotic pictures.

    link to

    These games may just make the insane storyline of CoD look like Crime & Punishment.

    • stahlwerk says:

      Someone should just put Virtual Vladimir “Prez” Putin in a space marine suit and remake Gears of War.

      Problem solved! (in a manly man’s way)

    • sasayan says:

      You reminded me of a bit from Eddie Izzard about WW2:

      “So, America did well, Russia did well, and deservedly so, because half a million American soldiers died, half a million British soldiers died, and about 26 million Russian soldiers died. Soldiers and civilians, and that’s just 50 times as many. It’s just un-fucking-believable, you know, and no one mentions it!These are just figures I discovered. That’s why they put up…’cause, I mean, Napoleon had been steaming in there 100 years before: “I’m going to kill them, I’m going to kill them, going to… Oh, it’s a bit cold, it’s a bit cold. Right! Ok, ok, bad idea.” And then Hitler, “I’ve got a better idea, got a better idea… Oh, it’s the same idea! It’s the same idea, it’s the same idea…” So no wonder they set up the Eastern Bloc! They wanted a buffer zone. It wasn’t fair, but that’s what they did. So that’s where they’re coming from.”

  11. Cinnamon says:

    Not sure what games they are making with that budget. Probably not Call of Uncle Joe for the PS3 but more like Collectivist Farmgrad for browsers.

    They should make a game based on the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. No kooky dancing bears or crass yankee propaganda in that subject.

    • TeeJay says:

      Maybe they’ll just make smaller payments to developers to make subtle changes to the characters and storylines of all their games?

  12. innokenti says:

    Good to see in a way. Thing is, there have been a few games that have portrayed Russia in a good light, but I think the best thing is that they tend to portray everyone in a mix of lighting – Americans, Germans, Brits, Russians, whoever, get portrayed as the collection of good and bad qualities, but on the whole everyone is slightly positive and the bad guys aren’t universally any single nation, race or anything like that.

    I like that in our games, and if funding goes to the creation of more clearly patriotic games… well, why not? I can’t see it detracting too much from the current mature and inclusive development culture.

    It would also be amusing to see if we get something like the brave sons of Mother Russia fighting the cruel imperialistic American invaders!

    • Lack_26 says:

      Actually, playing a game where you defend against an American invasion of Russia would be interesting, I’d love to see what the American press makes of it if they get wind of it.

    • drewski says:

      Dunno about American invading, but there’s certainly an RTS in China invading Siberia.

  13. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    The “This Is True” comment straight after the quote, made me lol so hard in fact, I passed gas…

  14. Idle Threats & Bad Poetry says:

    I read War & Peace a few years ago. It wasn’t recent, to be sure, but it sure portrayed Russians in a good light. That book cast a beautiful light on the Russian people. I don’t know how they’d make Napoleonic warfare into a good game, though.

  15. Hippo says:

    I think the last thing Russia needs is more silly patriotism. Patriotism is the virtue of the wicked, as Sean Connery once said.

  16. Drexer says:

    Honestly? I want to see what comes out of this.

    Not because I want to see a huge propaganda produced game, but because then perhaps we would see a videogame where the USA are the bad guys. And that is a niche that I’ve been wanting to see properly filled for a long time.

    Seriously, it’s not that I hate the USA, but the huge amount of stupidly military patriotism games like MW2 coming out coupled with the USA’s foreign policies and actions of the last decade makes me think of them a much more reasonable bad guy than most other countries out there. Certainly more than Russia.

    Perhaps not more than North Korea though.

  17. Schizoslayer says:

    Obviously I have to remind people about this:

  18. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    This makes me think of World in Conflict.. and that I really should get it.. At least there you can get to play the Russians. But mostly because it’s a great game.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      I Disagree, I bought the game, and found it abhorrent.
      I played it to completion once, and haven’t touched it since.
      The old school C&C series will be more worth your time, or maybe CoH or DoW.

      But make your own decisions IMO, maybe demo first?

    • tomeoftom says:

      “Make your own decisions IMO” is my new favourite phrase.

    • theleif says:

      Dont listen to the corrupt lies Corrupt_Tiki spew out. It is a blatant smear campaign of a very good game. He is obviously an Bolshevik, part of the Axis of Evil. Or the Illuminati. And a Freemason. Probably all of them.

      But seriously, i thought WiC was a really good game, and i thoroughly enjoyed both the singleplayer campaign and the multiplayer.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      @ TheLeif.. LIES!

      /whisper mother russia will not be happy -_-

  19. DIOakaNightmare says:

    It’s 15.7 million dollars, not 10.8.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      DIOakaNightmare: That’s not what the Telegraph story states. Where did you get that from?


    • DIOakaNightmare says:

      I used google calc:
      500 million roubles in USD
      and I live in Russia=)

    • Starky says:

      He’s correct, 500m Roubles is 10.8 British Pounds, not US dollars.

    • Starky says:

      10.8 million even.

    • DIOakaNightmare says:

      Oops. My mistake.
      BTW, press-release was about several “simulators”, not some general games, so we can pretty much expect new IL2/Lock On/Kharkov with PC as a target platform. With 1C’s additional funding it can turn up quite good.

  20. MultiVaC says:

    I can certainly see where Russia is coming from. I just saw the trailer for the game ‘Vanquish’, apparently from the creator of Resident Evil or something:

    link to

    Badass American soldiers save the world from EVIL RUSSIANS! In a Japanese game.

    The American Cold War mindset is so prevalent in video games that even Japanese developers are entrenched in it. I’m really getting tired of “America vs. Russia” being the theme of every war game being made.

  21. Jimmy says:

    I thought the Russian video game industry was already doing pretty well. Cryostasis, Metro 2033, and Men of War are mentioned quite frequently, as are former Eastern bloc studios such as Bohemia Interactive (ArmA) and GSC Game World (S.T.A.L.K.E.R.).

    I think most games have not quite hit the level of subtlety of movies and television series in the 70s, 80s, 90s, where former cold war tensions were placed as a battle between alternative models of society: capitalism, freedom, individualism vs. collectivism, socialism. Even less so with regard to the current political realities where the East / West divide is broken up into fragmented pieces, with many Eastern European nations becoming very nationalistic, perhaps as a result of enforced and adopted pan-USSR identity.

    In these debates, however, it is important not to be referencing popcorn video games like MW2. Of course, MW and its sequel (and clones) are probably the cause the attention being given to the home market by the parliamentarian in question.

  22. Sobric says:

    If this comes as part of the Putin endorsed push to gloss over the shadier part of recent Russian history, I’d be hugely wary of anything it produces.

    On the otherhand if, as mentioned above, it creates a Cold War game that involves defending Russia from American invasion, then awesome.

    So basically, if it’s Russia-centric then great, it can only do good for the game industry. If it’s painfully overstated propaganda pieces that go against the historical grain, then no thanks.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      Well, think of it this way, even if it is a Putin-centric game. One possible scenario is that you will play a character (Putin) and you will have to save a bunch of school children from an angry-super-derpa tiger, and you have your trusty scoped tranquilizer rifle on you (you always take it before you go on your woodly night stroll through the..erm woods) and there is a photographer that you have to pose for while taking the shot, you also choose what colour military fatigues you want to wear.

      Wow, this is really going somewhere!

  23. Dreaded Walrus says:

    Gillen: That’s not what the Telegraph story states. Where did you get that from?

    Any currrency converter around. The Telegraph just got confused. It’s 10.8 million pounds, not dollars.

    link to
    link to

  24. Dreaded Walrus says:

    Gillen: That’s not what the Telegraph story states. Where did you get that from?

    Any currrency converter around. The Telegraph just got confused. It’s 10.8 million pounds, not dollars.

    link to
    link to

    (last time I got an error code upon posting, so if this is a double post, delete one)

  25. Dreaded Walrus says:

    Gillen: That’s not what the Telegraph story states. Where did you get that from?

    Any currrency converter around. The Telegraph just got confused. It’s 10.8 million pounds, not dollars.

  26. Jimbo says:

    Call of Duty is the biggest franchise in town and that’s never been particularly anti-Russian. 2 & 5 had Russian campaigns, 4 sees you rescued at the end by Russian troops (albeit from other Russians) and MW2 has an American as the main bad guy and aggressor.

    GTA’s probably next biggest and relentlessly mocking the US is a cornerstone of that franchise.

    I can think of at least two big releases in recent weeks which have US corruption as a major theme.

    • AndrewC says:

      And one of the biggest bits of American satire in GTA4 was Republican Space Marines. There’s a lot of it about.

      Now, if you want to have fun, you could even try arguing that games have historically been inherently American in design – being mostly the very Libertarian idea of ‘one man against the world’.

      The group AI necessary for Communism has only been available in the past few years.

      This plan is doomed to failure simply because American Myths fit the templates of games better. You could have a Russian themed FPS, but, ludologically, the avatar is still going to be a Republican Space Marine only with a different uniform on.

      They would be better off making a Bear On Unicycle game, but super happy and fun.

      That’s what i think.

    • drewski says:

      Offroad Bear-on-Unicycle Safari.

    • Clovis says:

      Lots of strategy games have government controlled economies though. Like Tropico, Caeser series, most Tilted Mill games, I think Settlers. Most strategy games do not model a capitalist system, but rather a centrally controlled one.

      This probably has a lot more to do with gameplay than with politics though.

    • jalf says:

      @Jimbo: I don’t think it’s that simple. Are you saying GTA paints the US in a bad light? As a bad country? A bad place to live? I don’t think so. I certainly wouldn’t call it even remotely anti-american.

      On the contrary, the entire game is based on very american activities: driving and shooting. I don’t even know if I’d call it “mocking the US”. If anything, the morale is “true american activities (as above, driving and shooting) can overcome anything”.

      When that is said, you also have a point. In the last few years, the theme of “american badguy orchestrating everything for fun and profit” has become a pretty common plot point. Games (and pretty much all media) has become a lot more critical of the US than they were just a few years ago.

      The thing is, even so, I can’t think of any games that portrays the US *as a whole* as bad. Individual Americans, yes, even corporations or secret organizations, sure, but “God’s Own Country”? I really can’t think of a single game that has done that. It’s really always just a few rotten apples. You sort them out, and the US is back on top.

      On the other hand, count how many games have shown “Russia” as being the bad guy. Not “Mister Individual Russian With A Grudge”, but Russia as a whole.

      No game ever painted Joe Average American in a bad light. But games where Russia is the enemy makes absolutely no distinction. Russia is evil. Russia must be defeated.

    • AndrewC says:

      Let’s say then that games (and movies and most other mediums to be fair) do not criticise the American Dream, only how bureacracy, ignorance and big business have corrupted that dream. The pure form of that dream is still what is most valued.

      You won’t get many stories arguing against the idea of Freedom as an absolute value, or of gong after your personal goals to the exclusion of all else, or of beating the opposition, or, even, of material wealth as criteria of personal worth.

    • Jimmy says:

      > Drewski

      Enviro-Bear-on-Unicycle 2000

    • Fumarole says:

      On the other hand, count how many games have shown “Russia” as being the bad guy. Not “Mister Individual Russian With A Grudge”, but Russia as a whole.

      How about you back up your own argument and count them for us? I can’t think of any, and I am curious as to what games these might be. And games like World in Conflict don’t count as they certainly do not portray Russia as a whole as being the bad guy, merely the politicians and maybe military leaders. In fact, I can’t think of any games where this is done to any people as a whole. Off the top of my head the only games I can think of that come close generally do this to monsters or aliens, not humans.

  27. Gap Gen says:

    I guess it’d be no worse than America’s Army, although in general Russian politics is still deeply messed up, and has created a problematic society. Talking about America’s social problems, I think I mentioned a The Wire game before, as a kind of Pathologic set in Baltimore.

  28. The Sombrero Kid says:

    this is only different to the proposed UK tax relief in execution, ideologically they’re the same thing.

    • TeeJay says:

      The “culturally british” test for movies to get UK tax relief is very broad and doesn’t require any patriotism. A film would qualify even if it was purely about nasty fooball hooilgans or binge drinkers, as long as it was set in the UK and had enough UK actors and technicians etc.

      Criteria here (pass mark 16 out of 31 points): link to

  29. Cooper says:

    It’s worth picking up the point that the games to be developerd are to be about “The Great Patriotic War”

    Which, to most of us here, is more recognised as World War II

    There’s been quite a bit of a push in changing the teaching about the Great Patriotic War in Russia. They recently changed the taught terminology here in the Ukraine back from WWII to TGPW. The teaching differs in some really interesting ways from the rote we get taught in the UK.

    About time, I’d say. I’m getting tired of WWII being constantly envisioned as a solely American undertaking (with other countries usually getting stereotype bit-parts) in most media. Which is simply due to America being by far the largest producer of war-related media.

    Even if it simply reverses the nonsense patriotism of american-made WWII games and replaces it with nonsense Russian patriotism, it’ll at least be something of a counter balance.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      and new the most interesting part of any call of duty game ever was playing a Russian soldier at Stalingrad.

    • drewski says:

      I guess it’s a question of perspective – when I think of WW2, I think of the Germans. I’m not German.

    • Clovis says:

      Besides things like playing a sniper in Stalingrad, wouldn’t a Russian themed WWII shooter just be really depressing? I remember a game (Call of Duty II?) where you got handed a gun with like one bullet to assault a beach, and then later a machine gun was pointed at your back to assault a town. That was memorable, but didn’t really reflect well on Russia.

      Anyway, the Russians sufferred a huge amount of casualties. I guess if they focus on the heroics of a small group of soldiers it would be good. But the big set pieces would just be disturbing.

      I’m guessing they’ll also skip the part where the heroic soldier who battles through enemy lines to destroy some objective later gets thrown in a gulag since anyone who crossed enemy lines was clearly a spy.

    • cliffski says:

      well it does and it doesnt reflect well on them. For the soldier with one bullet, its hell. For the country, its truly incredible the sacrifices russia made to beat the Nazis.
      I’m gradually slogging my war through churchills war diaries, fascinating stuff. Its amazing how quickly, almost instantly the french rolled over and surrendered, and how many countries rolled over and surrendered without barely firing a shot.
      The three countries that didn’t were basically us, the russkies and the americans. The americans were never at serious threat on invasion, and we were an island with all that implies.
      For the russians it was different, a real life-or-death bitter hate-filled fight-to-the-death war with twenty million casualties, and they won, against all possible odds. Relatively unprepared, with a crap army and facing a technologically superior foe.
      The story of Russia fighting germany is one of the most incredible stories of modern history, and its one that most people miss out on purely because post-war, the US had hollywood, and Russia didn’t.

    • TeeJay says:

      “The three countries that didn’t were basically us, the russkies and the americans”

      Although Russia did sign the Molotov–Ribbentrop Treaty of Non-Aggression in 1939 which lasted until June 1941 when Germany finally invaded them. America only officially went to war with Germany in December 1941. So there was a bit of a grim period from mid 1940 to mid 1941.

  30. Somebody says:

    This is so our government. Only idiots spend money on building an oil-free economy or improving social security. What we really need is more propaganda!

    Goddamn bastards already took over tv and newspapers, now they want games as well.

    Still, half the money will be lost to corruption and even if it wont, talents in our games industry can chew through 10 million dollars in like two days.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      someones brave, the fsb will be round soon to silence you, lol.

  31. tim says:

    So this means more WWII games? Can anyone even tell if you’re playing an american, russian, english, etc, soldier in those games? All you do is shoot anyone who screams in german.

    can anyone list games that have a clear pro-american slant made in the last 5 years? And I’m talking about video games, not movies. I’m trying to, and I really can’t think of any, i just keep thinking of gta and mw2 – maybe not seeing dead american civilians in mw2 is pro-american, but that seems a stretch….

    Of course, if by ‘ideological’, they mean something more like a STALKER vs Fallout 3 type thing, then nevermind.

    • mrmud says:

      Ehhh, its usually fairly self evident what theatre of war you are fighting in and as a result of that what faction you are fighting for.

  32. Tei says:

    Russians are awesome. so showing that russians are awesome is just the next logical step.

    “To paraphrase Grant Morrison’s line, America is the first Empire to rule the world with light.”
    He… sounds like the main character of “The Rampage” movie.

  33. mlaskus says:

    I’ve never seen a game set during WWII which would portrait Soviet Union badly. If anything games absolutely avoid the fact that it was just as bad as the Third Reich.

  34. vanarbulax says:

    Since the cold war 100% of well funded, modern, ego-maniacal supervillians hell-bent on destroying the world have been Russian. It’s a fact, I learnt it from entertainments, which we all know is true. *sigh* They just don’t make them German like the used to.

    Though I would like to see some Russian centric games. Not nationalist propaganda (which this will probably be) and will probably do nothing to assuage fears of an archaic, hyper-nationalistic state with a few too many big guys with guns. Though I’m not sure what sort of Russian Idealogical event you can cover without causing large amounts of controversy (though that would be interesting).

    *Sigh* Empty nationalistic propaganda on heritage it is then.

  35. James Allen says:

    America’s Army for Russia? Why not?

    • poop says:

      I wonder if the russian version will be abled to match the brilliant social commentary of a game where no matter what side you are on you are always the heroic goodguys and the other side is always the petty terrorists

  36. dhex says:

    You won’t get many stories arguing against the idea of Freedom as an absolute value, or of gong after your personal goals to the exclusion of all else, or of beating the opposition, or, even, of material wealth as criteria of personal worth.

    burkean conservatism: the game?

    i’m intrigued, sorta.

  37. ArtyFishal says:

    I believe this could be a very positive thing for games. For far too long the vast majority of videogames have been telling a Cold War or “neo Cold War” story that is antiquated, misleading, anglocentric, and in most cases( especially CoD:MW) just impossibly stupid. This is made even less relevant by the fact the the cold war was primarily a war of propaganda, that was more grand in the minds of the nations then it ever was in the field. Developers have been irresponsible and lazy. I’d like to see Western developers adopt a similar attitude.

    As a tool of propaganda, I think video-games may be unparalleled in their efficacy. However, I see this neutral issue by itself. I do believe that the people of Russia now deserve fiction to treat them as a more complete country and not( increasingly ludicrously) the world’s bogeymen.

  38. mandrill says:

    If Russia doesn’t want people to percieve it as dodgy then they should atart acting in less dodgy ways.

    It doesn’t help that their current government is made up of ex-KGB and has lots of links to the Russian mafia. Corruption and cronyism is rife and they are extremely (if subtly) repressive of any criticism of them in the press and other media.

    It also doesn’t help that they blatantly steal assets from successful (I won’t say legitimate, because in alot of cases they’re not) private businesses.

    All this harping on about patriotism comes across as dangerously jingoistic. If Russian developers make good games, then this can only improve Russia’s reputation.

    Saying that, the rest of the world treated Russia (or the then Soviet Union) as the ‘bad guys’ for decades so its only natural that they feel justified in living up to that on occasion.

    Its not the past that Russia needs to concern itself with but how they are precieved now and into the future. This is not going to help. Giving gov’t funding to projects which glorify a period of Soviet history which was just as bloody and oppressive as the same period in Germany is not going to paint them in a very nice light.

  39. solipsistnation says:

    From the Russian games I’ve seen, maybe the Russian government should invest in a crack squad of highly-trained game QA testers.

    They should also mint medals for them. “Distinguished Games Testing, Second Class.” “Order of Strelok.” “Hero of Russian Games Programming.” “Valiant Debugging.”

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      Translator’s Cross for above and beyond the call of duty.

  40. godwin says:

    Medal of Honour.

    ‘Nuff said.

  41. mojo says:

    as a citizen, i can assure you, that russia has solved all the problems.
    all that left is lack of pro-russia videogames.

  42. Brer says:

    “But there’s justification for painting America in darker tones too, and that rarely happens in media – and in games especially.”??

    Excuse me? Are we just not playing the same games? Of the last four three major video game releases I played, here are three of the plots:

    -American General conspires with foreign terrorists to plunge the world into war to “make America great again”.

    -American intelligence agency works with a PMC to stage a terrorist attack on Washington DC and execute a coup d’etat so that the GWOT can continue and be expanded after the current president threatens to cut funding and withdraw troops from the middle east.

    -American defense contractor controls an American intelligence agency, and uses its resources and its own to stage terrorist incidents it can falsely blame on middle eastern groups, as well as eventually trying to stage a war between the US and China over Taiwan.

    I don’t think it’s anywhere near as rare as you think it is.

    • Krondonian says:

      General, PMC, Defense Conractor: the unifying theme is not ‘bad america’ but ‘rogue elements corrupting great america’.

      Wheras with North Korea, Russia, Germany it’s basically the entire country being evil.

      It reminds me a lot of Chomsky’s writing on the propaganda model and US foreign policy. In Vietnam, in Iraq, the overriding media consensus outside of the blatantly pro-war camps is that the US, despite best intentions, made mistakes and was led astray. Rather like how the 8 years of Bush was portrayed as an aberration, despite the consistency of Obama, and Republicans/Democrats generally with imperalistic tendencies.

      When the framework is shifted from bad guys being rogue elements within the nation to the fundamental tendency of the power structres of the nation, then a real step will have been made.

    • Brer says:

      I disagree, especially with regards to Russa. In GRAW 1 and CoD 4, the bad guys are a faction of “ultranationalists”, and in both you fight -With- Russians during the last levels to reclaim the government. In WWII games, Russia’s generally portrayed as heroic. As for North Korea, the government gets a bad rap because the government is fundamentally rotten to the core and indefensible by anyone who doesn’t suffer from a knee-jerk reflex to feel good about any country the US says bad things about.

      List a single post-Cold War game where Russia as a -whole- is portrayed as antagonistic, as opposed to some extremist/rogue faction that’s seized control.

      Your mention of Chomsky is revealing. When you’re genuinely interested in becoming educated on US foreign policy history, on what imperialism is and what it means both in contemporary and historical geopolitics, and on the world stage in general, I highly suggest you look for other sources. As a writer on politics, Chomsky’s an excellent linguist.

    • Pesforozo says:

      I was just going of the examples you gave not really caring for CoD4’s story, and not playing GRAW, or whatever the third one was. My knowledge of games is hardly encyclopaedic, but as per your request, in Bad Company 2 I think the Russians were just generally evil. (With the stock American backstabber).

      Generic middle eastern terrorists are also fine to use as random bad guys now, obviously due to the recent American wars. I might be off the mark with saying that other nations are portrayed as homogenously evil. What’s more important is that standard enemies are the US’s standard enemies. I’m no expert, but I believe that the consistent portrayal of one group as the adversary (even with the proviso that it’s rogue actors) can slowly shift perceptions.

      As for North Korea, I’m not apologist. But Crysis’ ‘it’s the evil north koreans’ for example, did strike me as rather tasteless. It’s about nuance, rather than good/bad fairy tales.

      As for Chomsky, I don’t think we’ll agree there. I’m open to any sources you can recommend though.

    • Pesforozo says:

      Many typos, apologies.

    • Brer says:

      In Bad Company 1 and 2, the Russians and the US are -fighting-, but the reasons are never given, and Russia is not portrayed villainously beyond the fact that they’re shooting at you and you’re shooting at them. They don’t go around massacreing civilians or committing any war crimes. The guy who IS portrayed villainously (wanting to hit US population centers with WMDs and so on) is specifically described as a “rogue” agent. In fact, in Bad Company 2 there’s at least a few scenes where they humanize (mostly for the sake of humour) russian soldiers.

      In terms of the Ghost Recon plot I was referring to the original Ghost Recon, by the way. Calling it GRAW was my mistake. The bad guys in GRAW 1 and 2 were a “rogue faction” (again) of the Mexican military that had seized power along with certain politicians, and the plot in Rainbow Six Vegas (1 and 2) ties into that group’s goals. I think the reason that the “rogue faction” stuff proliferates is simply that most game developers don’t want to court potential offense. Games are sold worldwide, and while sometimes they may decide to take pot shots at a country for the sake of controversy, most of the time they play it safe.

      Another interesting thing is that for all the complaints about the ubiquity of the “generic middle eastern terrorist”, they’re actually not all that common. The last game I can remember where they played a role they were bit players who happened to be cooperating with the main villains of the piece, an American right wing terrorist organization called John Brown’s Army. Far more common is the generic “mercenaries”.

      As for Chomsky, just start with some google searches, or even Wikipedia. There are a great many well-sourced criticisms of his scholarship. The short version is that he systematically and (most damningly) selectively strips context from his discussion of history, then compounds that by either citing false sources, or citing real sources for quotes and figures that aren’t actually contained in them. Add that to his systematic apologetics and denalism of the atrocities of various authoritarian regimes (most notably the campaigns of the Khmer Rouge, which he analogized to the execution of Vichy collaborators in post WWII France, and the effects of land reform in post-unification Vietnam which he simply denies outright) and you have someone who is very good at writting stirringly emotional screeds to stir up the passions…but is abysmally bad at being an intellectually honest (let alone rigorous) scholar of history or political science. He is, in short, a very articulate propagandist.

    • Pesforozo says:

      Once again, I can’t profess to have a full picture of the siuation, as I try to play a broad range of genres and can only play so many games. Bad Comany was bad example, as it’s semi-satirical/humourous, about videogame cliches. I’ve just finished it, was all. Even then though, there’s a few pointers. Right at the beginning, your player curses the ‘chain of command’ when he isn’t allowed to shoot the arch villain. When you consider this in the context of extra-judicial killings that take place in reality in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia etc., the message of letting the soldiers decide was, for me, quite unpalateable.

      The middle eastern terrorists I got the impression from CoD4 shoot-a-duck ranges, and various games coming out (Desert Storm, that Dubai One, the cancelled Fallujah one, Medal of Honour). Analyses may prove me wrong, but it certainly seems that there’s a shifting move to that type of ‘acceptable villainous group’. Once again, that wouldn’t be so bad if it not for the real world mirrors. In the recent gaza flotilla for example, claims that the boat contained ‘terrorists’, and even ‘al qaeda’ were often repeated unquestioningly. Labelling groups terrorists can destroy lives and creates the false dichtomy that allows less questioning of moral right. I’m reading about Uzbekistan now, where Muslims were often labelled ‘terrorists’ as an easy means to avoid more questioning about the terrible tortures that go on. This is a bit of a divergance, but I’m trying to get at the general problem of ‘easy enemies’.

      As for mercenaries, that’s true. I find that reasonable though, as it’s less complicated than national conflicts morally, and seems the obvious choice for ‘generic bad guys’.

      Finally, on Chomsky, he’s written over 100 books, and I’m sure there are errors. As for systematic propagandising, I really don’t think that to be the case. I can’t make a great argument, and I maybe I’ll agree with you in a few years after researching thoroughly for myself. I have read a couple of arguments though, where the inverse was true- people distorting and reducing context of his writing. I believe this happened for the Kyhmer Rouge incidence, where he flagged up exaggaerated reporting of KR massacres, compared to US ones. The problem is often that when common assumptions created by the mood of the press are removed, it can be very hard to distinguish what is correct. As I think you’ll be able to appreciate, I’m not going to out of hand reject a well respected scholar’s works based on a comment on RPS. Maybe in a few years though, I’ll be agreeing with you- I don’t know.

      Once again, any authors/sources you can recommend on geopolitics, US foreign policy and imperalism I would appreciate.

  43. Josh says:

    echoing earlier sentiment that playing a Russian in the Battle of Stalingrad was beyond awesome. I could play that for hours. I have to agree that having the American’s be the hero’s in most FPS games is pretty bland now, if not ironic.
    I would love the see a Russian Modern Warfare, primarily because I’d like to see what cultural anxieties would come out. MW and MW2 play on American anxiety about the Middle East, and the stereotypical mad man that terrorizes both the US and the world. Even more so in MW2, anxiety about nuclear war comes out. I’m curious about what sorts of Russian anxieties there are. I think Stalker might have captured a little bit of a Russian view with not only other humans being a threat, but also the radiation, and the wild, mutant animals. I’ve read a bit about how some villages in Russia still worry about bears or packs of wild dogs attacking people.
    I could be completely wrong on all of this though, I know so little about Russian culture.

  44. Comrade Ranger says:

    red alert 2 bro

    • Comrade Ranger says:

      well that was supposed to be a reply asking for a game where russia invades the us -.-

      seeing as you can play as russia and all

  45. DarkNoghri says:

    As shown in this article, Kieron equates 1$ to 1 pound. Obviously, this means he’s in on the whole screwing of everyone outside of the US when it comes to pricing.

    He’s been bought off. We should have seen this coming ever since that Eurogamer deal.

    “or 10.8 million quid”

    “10 million dollars is a barely a ripple”

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      DarkNoghri: It was originally all dollars. People pointed out that the Telegraph had done the translation wrong – it was actually pounds, not dollars. I corrected the main one, but missed the secondary mention.


    • DarkNoghri says:

      I know, I was just attempting to be funny.

      And failing, apparently.

  46. Pijama says:

    Kieron, I would ask first and foremost LxR from Ice-Pick Lodge what he feels about that, considering he is always posting here and is one of the most solicit representatives from game development around.


    …The new gaming generation from there is the Russian lad born around the collapse of the Soviet Union. Those guys were grown during tremendous depression, with literal robber barons pillaging the country to whosoever wanted it, saw every so-called “expert” from the United States or Western Europe trying to convince about “shock therapy” in order to kickstart economy and everything went bad to worse.

    And guess what, the U.S. makes question of selling the worst possible image of them. Russians are just bloody alcoholic atheist communists who deserve nothing but the worst coming at their way, and they do movies books games what-have-you portraying as such and everyone, EVERYONE from here to goddamn Timbuktu thinks that as much.

    Ain’t that just a bucket of sunshine for a young one.

    So if their government decides to take a form of entertainment and communication (yes, I think gaming is one) seriously to give a better portrayal of what they are because they had enough shit shoved at them, I applaud them.

    I believe that the Yankee media will come all fire and brimstone about that, saying crap like “INCENTIVE TO VIOLENCE”, “RUSSIAN DIGITAL PROPAGANDA: SOVIET UNION IS BACK” or whatever, but they don’t lift a finger about the Modern Warfares around that are simply big servings of AMERICA FUCK YEAH around. Nobody asks an Arab, an eastern Slav or a South American how do they feel about being portrayed like shit in such cases eh?

    Plus, Stalingrad made by proper Russians? Now that is some stuff that is simply right.

  47. James Allen says:

    Lisa: Dad, you can’t judge a place you’ve never been to.
    Bart: Yeah, that’s what people do in Russia.

  48. Coldwave says:

    Our so called leaders prostituted us to the West.

  49. Vanger says:

    I am Russian and I proudly say that all that money will be stolen.

  50. Bret says:

    No mention of X-Com?

    Seriously, that is a shockingly pro-Russian game.

    Russia never surrenders to aliens, sends some of the best soldiers…

    I mean, it has Great Britain surrendering at the drop of an alien hat.