What Makes American Games "American"?

What Makes American Games "American"?

This weekend was July 4, Independence Day. It’s America’s biggest national holiday. And it’s got me thinking about American games – namely, as this post title indicates, what makes American games “American”?

Sure, the fact that Americans made them makes them American by default.

There are obvious games to point to, like Madden football. The series is huge in the United States, and players in other countries just do not geddit. That, perhaps, is because American football is largely played by Americans.

Another obvious game is something like the Gears of War franchise or the Call of Duty games.

Both Gears of War and Call of Duty are shooters (third-person and first-person), and Americans seem to hold a certain appreciation for guns. For better or worse, they are very much a part of the culture.

But saying that they are American simply because they feature guns is a gross oversimplification. Developers in other countries readily feature firearms in their games.

There are exceptions – endless exceptions. You can probably come up with a bunch right now of American games that either do not feel distinctly American or that transcend cultural boundaries. That doesn’t mean these games are any less American or that the developers who made them are somehow un-American. It doesn’t mean that at all.

Instead of littering the comments section with those exceptions, let us know what games are distinctly American and why. There has to be more than big dudes with guns. There has to.


  • left 4 dead 1 & 2, the setting and characters are a great representation of america in video games, and there’s guns.

  • Duke Nukem screams America to me. It’s like a joke America. Some militaristic yahoo who thinks he is a cowboy kills a million aliens, tips strippers and talks smack.
    Don’t get me wrong though, it’s a great thing!

    Perhaps, on a more serious note, Blizzard games would be a good example. WarCraft/StarCraft & Diablo. That style of fantasy & mythology that is unlike other countries stylings, coupled with stories that are familiar and influenced, but still uniquely Americanised.
    Big characters, big action and big worlds for it all to happen in. Mass Effect falls into this category too I think.

    European games tend to have different flavour, something a bit darker and more serious.
    UK games tend to bring a sense of humour, very dry usually, along with a sinister undertone for most game worlds/stories. Asian games, well I’ve never been the biggest fan of them, but usually they are alot prettier even in the game worlds they create that are supposed to be dark, everything is beautified. The stories as well have a tendency to be fairy tale-ish.

    These are all generalisations though & no one geographical area is going to stick to that.

  • Sam and Max is quintessentially American, by the very nature of it’s story. The very concept of the characters is to satirize and twist elements of American life, history and pop culture in a truly brilliant way. You could -make- Sam and Max in another country, but the feel of the game would be very different.

    On an utterly different path, there is The Sims. Both plaid straight and in it’s own satirical elements (Soma TVs, anyone?), The Sims focuses on small-town American life- from the white picket fences to southern gothic mansions to the career building American dream of growing up to become president.

    Those are just off the top of my head…

  • If you can picture Jason Statham in the lead role then it is likely an American game. (Yes I know he is British but his roles just fit so well.)

  • Freedom Fighters.

    the whole plot and concept is so amazingly contradictory and offensive that it’s truly one of those “only in america” moments in gaming

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