Non-Political Ad For Political Game Banned For Being Political

from the selling-democracy dept

In these highly divided political times, where everyone seems to have mistaken parties for street gangs to which your undying loyalty and support must be levied, it's understandable that there has been some controversy surrounding online political advertisements. We saw this during the last presidential election cycle, where many people reported their unhappiness with the application of social media political ads. Beyond that, we've also seen some groups abusing the takedown process to censor parody ads of their preferred candidates. The point being that, now that our once-proud political system has coagulated to the point where you're going to piss off roughly 47% of the population no matter what you do, the companies charged with placing these online ads can be rather sensitive about exactly what they're putting out there.

That said, I'm quite confused as to how this online ad for Democracy 3, a game produced by Positech Games, somehow tripped whatever alarms were in place with whoever was tasked with placing the advertisement.


This was apparently enough for the ad company to tell the developer that they couldn't place the ad because they "can not promote any politics as this is a sensitive subject." Now, if one were to copy the URL for that image from the link provided, you'll notice that it's labeled as "Gamestop_rect.jpg". That doesn't mean for sure that Gamestop, or the people in charge of their online ads, is refusing this, but it seems somewhat likely.

Likely, yet irrelevant, because what the hell is in that advertisement that could possibly be construed as a political statement? The folks at Positech Games seem equally confused.

WTF? I bet ads for games like hitman, or GTA, or games where you get slow-mo closeups of people’s skulls being blasted apart by high-caliber bullets are just fine. But discuss income tax? OH NOES THE WORLD WILL END! I saw a clip of mortal kombat on that charlie brooker doumenatry that made me feel sick, but apparently we as an industry are just FINE with that… It’s stuff like this that sometimes makes me ashamed to be in this industry. Half of the industry wants to be grown up and accepted as art, the other half have the mentality of seven year olds. I’m pretty cynical, but I never expected my ads for a game about government-simulation to be too controversial to be shown (for money no less…).

My next game will be gratuitous homicide battles. I bet everyone will let me promote that one eh?
Even if it was the content of the game itself that tripped off the warning bells, we're really living in a country where a game about politics can no longer be sold through online ads because too many of our fellow countrymen are mouth-breathing fanatics? No, that's stupid. That kind of pussyfooting needs to be exposed, highlighted, and summarily done away with, because if we can't have that kind of speech due to corporate cowardice, we're all in for a world of dumb when it comes to political thought in this country.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Ninja (profile), Dec 16th, 2013 @ 3:56am

    My next game will be gratuitous homicide battles. I bet everyone will let me promote that one eh?

    Actually you'll have the likes of Red Cross (was it?) protest against you and tell you that you should add entire trial simulations (real time, you only get to play again in 6 years when the trial is concluded if you are lucky enough to get no prison sentence). There will probably be some churches out there advocating for the rights of non-existing people, clueless TV show celebrities blaming your games for AIDS, hunger in Africa and violent actions perpetrated by mentally ill people, politicians issuing factless statements that your games turn children into murderous zombies and other rather entertaining stuff if it wasn't for the fact they are trying to bend the laws to their delusional opinions.

    Your game probably has sensitive (and possibly classified) information to a system that most of the world was supposed to follow but is inconvenient to Governments that are seeking to eradicate a non-existent threats they call by different names depending on the context it seems (although it's increasingly common to see them not giving a damn to context). A few examples of names used to describe this fictional threat are: child porn, cyberbullying, zombie apocalypse, national security and terrorism. Some conspiracy nuts imply that they couldn't care less about these said threats and instead are willing to play the game your competitor released called Totalitarianism 2 (or one of its mods, the Fascism 2.0) but it's all speculation by now.

    Still if I were you I'd be careful with the thougth police, it seems to be on rampage lately.

     

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    rw (profile), Dec 16th, 2013 @ 5:25am

    "...we're all in for a world of dumb when it comes to political thought in this country."

    Too late. We already are.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 5:40am

      Re:

      By the time you wake up and realize that you are living in a totalitarian state—it is already too late.

                  ——attributed to Hannah Arendt

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 5:51am

    Hmmm

    So therefore if you can even play a game where you would brobably be a better leader than those on charge atm, that possibility must be censored...

    Lack Of Thrust comes to mind IMHO =(

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Dec 16th, 2013 @ 5:52am

    Maybe they were worried about people playing the game and becoming even more cynical and disgusted with the entire political system?

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 5:59am

    Timmy, you're oblivious to violence being reviled:

    "games where you get slow-mo closeups of people’s skulls being blasted apart by high-caliber bullets are just fine. ... I saw a clip of mortal kombat on that charlie brooker doumenatry that made me feel sick, but apparently we as an industry are just FINE with that…" --THIS is the real focus of the industry, to foster a climate where violence is ordinary.

    Timmy, YOU just proved that "too many of our fellow countrymen are mouth-breathing fanatics" who LOVE fantasy violence but are unable to deal with anything substantive.

    Violence and this ad ban are BOTH wrong, see? But you live in a shallow world of false alternatives, regard even reasonable limits on violent content as cutting into your vital rights, and that's the real stupidity of gamers: they're basically just dogs delighting in blood-lust.

    The Rich get the most money and power by selling crap to dolts, and therefore increasingly tilt society away from quality and smarts.

    01:57:09[b-250-0]

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 6:09am

      Re: Timmy, you're oblivious to violence being reviled:

      Hi Blue

      *click*

      By Blue

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 6:20am

      Re:

      "This is wrong! I'll blame anyone who criticizes this!"

      God, you're a tool and an idiot. DMCAed!

       

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    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
       
      identicon
      out_of_the_blue, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 6:37am

      Re: Timmy, you're oblivious to violence being reviled:

      Stop impersonating me, you make me sound like some washed up old hag that has nothing better to do than whine about anything said on techdirt!


      02:37:56[d-635-9]

       

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 16th, 2013 @ 9:35am

      Re: Timmy, you're oblivious to violence being reviled:

      Er, that was the author of the game saying those things, not me. Do you, and I guess I shouldn't be surprised I have to ask this question, not know what a block quote is?

       

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    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), Dec 16th, 2013 @ 6:14am

    I see the problem...

    .. the ad is promoting DEMOCRACY ... and we just can't have any more of THAT nonsense.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 1:46pm

      Re: I see the problem...

      ".. the ad is promoting DEMOCRACY ... and we just can't have any more of THAT nonsense."

      Nope. Now, IDIOCRACY is just fine.

       

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    Designerfx (profile), Dec 16th, 2013 @ 6:26am

    Hmm

    I get the point of the post here, and I agree that it's stupid of a company to do (gamestop potentially) - but I don't know if I would say that the ad was banned as it implies different things as opposed to the advertising company who banned it.

    My first thought when I read this was that some random obscure US law was being used to prevent political games or equivalent, based on the title.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 6:42am

    Actually, watch the ad

    I tried this game three days ago and deleted it in disgust. It very obviously has a political agenda - they refer to socialism and liberalism as quantities that are increased by things like luxury taxes.

    That particular image might not seem biased, but the video trailer for the game demonstrates some of the bias and the game itself is clearly floating a political agenda.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 7:47am

      Re: Actually, watch the ad

      "they refer to socialism and liberalism as quantities that are increased by things like luxury taxes."

      Seems like that is not too far off from the real world.

      You tax the rich and business more and more, they make less and less jobs since they have less money to re-invest.

      The unemployed people want 'help' because they cannot find jobs so they vote for liberals/socialists who promise to give plenty of 'help' to the poor people.


      " the video trailer for the game demonstrates some of the bias and the game itself is clearly floating a political agenda."

      I watched it, not sure what was biased, seemed like it was showing that giving favours to one group hurts another group and that you need to find the right balance to please the various groups to get re-elected. That seems to be what real politicians do regardless of their affiliation.

       

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        observer, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 2:47pm

        Re: Re: Actually, watch the ad

        I watched it, not sure what was biased, seemed like it was showing that giving favours to one group hurts another group and that you need to find the right balance to please the various groups to get re-elected.

        I've played the game, and that's exactly how it works. The "quantities" in question are the number of people in your country who belong to a given group and what they tend to think of you, and both of those can be affected by your policies. Which does kind of make sense to represent in a political simulation.

         

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      Brazenly Anonymous, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 8:22am

      Re: Actually, watch the ad

      It's a game. It has to oversimplify things. As such, every group could complain that their views are oversimplified. People could also be reasonable about the difference between reality and games.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 8:26am

      Re: Actually, watch the ad

      I don't think you understand politics in the slightest.

       

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      JMT (profile), Dec 16th, 2013 @ 11:21am

      Re: Actually, watch the ad

      "...the video trailer for the game demonstrates some of the bias..."

      Bias towards what? You've presented half an accusation, as if you think the word itself is a criticism.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 6:54am

    If you had read

    Games People Play (book)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Games_People_Play_%28book%29

    you would have no problem understanding a meaning to the title other than a computer game.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 7:18am

    That's so, like, political, man.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 7:40am

    Democrats: Obviously that man in the ad is a Republican, he's a white male who's so white his skin is pale as a piece of paper. That makes this a controversial political statement by trying to make the game appeal to old white guys.

    Republicans: Obviously that man in the ad is a democrat since he looks foreign so he must be an illegal immigrant. That makes this a controversial political statement by trying to make the game appeal to immigrants, especially illegal ones.

     

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    G Thompson (profile), Dec 16th, 2013 @ 8:15am

    So if this game is called, and I'll go out on a limb here and say also ABOUT democracy..

    Does that mean its a "Fantasy" Role playing game?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 8:53am

      Re:

      Nope. It's a reality-simulator. Except in, y'know, reality, which is a world so steeped in bullshit that the bull just went, "Screw that for a blade of grass, I ain't playing anymore."

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 11:58am

    bias

    each law passed or repealed causes the citizens of a country to act different, each tax applied or removed does the same think, a fine on speeding gets car drivers to slow down in school zones. paying for a bigger military by removing regulations and government costs for food safety is a bias, a bias can be good or bad, but is fundamental to a political simulation if you remove 'bias options' because they dont align with political views, that not a game.

     

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    Loki, Dec 16th, 2013 @ 12:06pm

    Obviously the title is the problem. While that seems snarky, if you spend enough time looking at the way this country is being run (into the ground), it quickly becomes apparent that the last thing the government wants is too many people learning how actual basic democracy really functions as opposed to the increasingly oligarchic system posing as democracy we have now.

     

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    ECA (profile), Dec 16th, 2013 @ 12:49pm

    Anyone get the idea

    tHAT THIS game MIGHT teach US SOMETHING??

    NOT how its supposed to be, but HOW it is..at least a good guess..

     

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    Pragmatic, Dec 17th, 2013 @ 6:06am

    In these highly divided political times, where everyone seems to have mistaken parties for street gangs to which your undying loyalty and support must be levied

    And God forbid you to take a middle-ground view, you [insert partisan insult here]. It's getting to the point where only extremist viewpoints are welcome on the right, while the reasonable critique of the liberal/left gets me called "defective" if I dare to stray from the accepted doctrines.

    To be fair, there seems to be more crazy on the right; I know a lot of reasonable, moderate Dems. But that's the problem. Any time I self-identify as conservative, I'm expected to drop my moderate approach and embrace the kind of Taliban-inspired insanity that frankly, scares me.

    What happened to America, the home of the brave and the land of the free?

    Many of our fellow countrymen are indeed mouth-breathing fanatics. They're the ones calling me a commie because I don't believe that guns are a human right.

    we're all in for a world of dumb when it comes to political thought in this country.


    *Wipes away a tear* We're already there, pal. We're already there. Where the hell are the moderate, designated-driver types who OUGHT to be running the show, setting the agenda, and driving the discourse? Why are they ALLOWING themselves to be marginalized?

     

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