Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney sought to clarify controversial statements he made about the role of video games in today’s divisive political climate.
At the recent DICE Summit, Sweeney commented on the state of gaming. He brought up solid points like loot boxes being unprofessional or titles such as Fortnite evolving to have their own in-game economies. Essentially, games as a medium are growing, and we need to be careful with that expansion.
With those insights, it comes a bit shocking then that he said, “We live in a world where your political affiliation determines what chicken restaurant you go to. There’s no reason to drag divisive topics like that into gaming. We as companies need to divorce ourselves from politics.” According to a report on Gamasutra, he added: “We have to create a very clear separation between church and state,” and, “there’s no reason to drag divisive topics…into gaming at all.” He also said that game company “should get the marketing departments out of politics,” according to a report on IGN.
This created significant push-back and confusion on Twitter. Yes, the Epic Games CEO brought up the old “do politics belong in gaming?” argument, and he stood on the wrong side of it.
Seeking to clear up the confusion, Sweeney posted: “If a game tackles politics, as To Kill a Mockingbird did as a novel, it should come from the heart of creatives and not from marketing departments seeking to capitalize on division.”
Tim Sweeney’s net worth is close to $8 billion. With all of that money, Sweeney is unaware of what’s going on in the real world. “We as companies need to divorce ourselves from politics … platforms should be neutral,” he says, likely commenting on the fact that players are shunning the Epic Games Store due to its exclusivity buyouts. Unfortunately, whether they like it or not, game development companies can’t be neutral.
Creating games, or what Sweeney calls a “first class social activity,” is inherently political. To include LGBTQ characters in Stardew Valley is political. Deciding between a male or a female protagonist is political. The previously mentioned Epic Games buyouts are entirely political.