Worth Reading: The Uncomfortable Politics Of Battlefield Hardline

Worth Reading: The Uncomfortable Politics Of Battlefield Hardline

We’re back with another collection of excellent games writing. Can you think of two games to talk about that more wildly different than Shadow of the Colossus and Battlefield Hardline?

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Worth Reading: The Uncomfortable Politics Of Battlefield Hardline

I’ve wanted a reason to replay Shadow of the Colossus, and this artsy meditation on the player’s goals in Fumito Ueda’s classic gave me the shivers all over again. There’s a quiet sadness to your ambitious efforts in Shadow of the Colossus, and it’s never quite clear whether you might actually be the good or the bad guy. Your intentions — saving the life of another — are noble, but at what cost? These wandering beasts didn’t ask to be pulled into this, and yet you kill them.

“There are 16 colossi spread out across the massive, arid peninsula. They are the game’s only opponents. When you first see one of these giants, it’s hard to imagine anything more intimidating. They are massive composites of hide and stone, bristling with fragments of castle-like fortifications. They seem invulnerable, but the method to killing a colossi reveals the creature’s surprisingly fragility.”

Worth Reading: The Uncomfortable Politics Of Battlefield Hardline
Worth Reading: The Uncomfortable Politics Of Battlefield Hardline

It’s impossible to talk about Battlefield Hardline without considering the political environment it’s released in, and Austin Walker presents a thoughtful meditation on the topic. He doesn’t dismiss what the game’s trying to accomplish, and tries to meet it halfway. You can feel Walker’s anger simmering beneath his rhetoric, but it doesn’t dominate the conversation. The next time I’m asked to write about a game with such a sensitive subtext, I’ll be glancing back at this piece.

“As it turns out, you can’t simply layer a set of new systems over old ones and expect something meaningful or consistent to emerge. No amount of external incentivization (not least of all this sort of incentivization) could counter the fact that Battlefield Hardline is a game built for lethal violence. At one point, a character in the second half of the game jokes about the benefits of leaving law enforcement behind: “Well at least we won’t have to fill out a bunch of paperwork later.” But you never had to. There’s never been any disincentivization for violence in Hardline. There’s only been the most limited encouragement imaginable to keep your weapon holstered. Only bonus points.

Bonus points aren’t enough. We don’t expect the police to arrest people instead of shooting them so that they will get bonus points. We expect them to arrest suspects because, however cynical we might be, we generally hold out the hope that someone who seems guilty could, maybe, be innocent. Tamir Rice. The best of us believe that even folks who have (allegedly) committed petty crimes deserves the chance to live healthy, productive lives. Mike Brown. We tell stories about “proper” use of legitimized police violence because the very notion that they might use it wrongly — that they might murder someone in broad daylight as he begs for help, as he begs for air — is so devastating, so terrible, that we can’t bear to confront it alone.”

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Oh, And This Other Stuff

  • Bryant Francis broke down the financial expectations for new indie developers.
  • Clint Hocking examined his psychological damage making Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory.
  • Megan Farokhmanesh put on a fashion show for Cid from the Final Fantasy series.
  • Keza MacDonald explained why people should actually want politics in their games.
  • Blake Harris chronicled the development of the great hockey game NHL 14.
  • Andrew Webster interviewed developers about possibly becoming one-hit wonders.
  • Soha Kareem discovered that Twine games allowed her to start healing.
  • Chris Kohler looked at why Nintendo cares so much about what’s happening on YouTube.
  • Carolyn Petit used Life Is Strange as a way to consider how we confront our memories.
  • Duncan Fyfe spoke with Campo Santo about its supposed “anti-Gamer Gate” hiring policy.


  • Must have been hard when you were asked to write an article to try to drum up sales for EA’s latest failure. There is clearly no controversy with this game other than what you make up.

    • I’m not sure if you missed the vibe of the current public perception of police in America?

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