Legendary writer Chris Avellone has been attached to some of the most well received, popular, and best-selling games in the history of the industry, having his name attached to iconic series like Knights of the Old Republic, Fallout and Dying Light. Recently Avellone was interviewed by VG 24/7 where he told the outlet that he preferred writing games with apolitical messages.
The interview was published on May 31st, 2019, and when asked about whether stories can be apolitical, Avellone stated…
“They may become political as societal norms change, but I believe it’s possible to do apolitical games. I also don’t condone developers who want to do political games or make a statement – I think a game is served better by asking a question, provide a range of perspectives on the question, but then leaving the answer to the player. I try to frame any politics in the parameters of the world, the lore, and the franchise.
“The reason I take this approach is because I view games as entertainment. If you’re purposely pushing an agenda or point of view in your game – especially a real-world one that’s clearly divorced from the game world – and you’re dictating that perspective as correct vs. asking a question or examining the perspective more broadly, then it’s left the gaming realm and the ‘game’ has become a pulpit.”
There was a slight post-publishing correction that Avellone issued by Twitter, noting that he meant “condemn” not “condone”, so it should read that he doesn’t condemn developers who want to do political games.
Yeah, it was, but I should have proofed it better, it’s my fault, not Kirk’s (and even so, “condemn” is still too strong of a word). I’ll review better next time. :/
— Chris Avellone (@ChrisAvellone) June 2, 2019
Even still, his message is read loud and clear.
In fact, everything Avellone said is 100% correct.
A lot of games today aren’t designed to tell compelling stories with interesting characters, they’re made as vehicles for SJW-minded developers to push their propaganda. We’ve seen it in a number of games, usually through characters designed as nothing more than caricatures of “diversity” so the developers can virtue signal how woke they are, or stories where instead of gamers having choices they’re lectured to, like in Mass Effect: Andromeda when they encountered a trans character, or like in Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear where they encountered a trans character, or like in Dragon Age: Inquisition where players encountered a trans character.
Many of today’s developers completely strip players of meaningful choices, or limit the choices so that players have to agree with the politics the developers are putting forward. It’s the complete opposite of what Avellone is talking about, where in games like Alpha Protocol you had some very distinct choices to make that completely altered the story and the development of certain plot lines.
Virtue signaling developers in today’s era have been doing the opposite of what Avellone suggested. Instead they’ve been using their platforms for preaching their brand of politics from the interactive entertainment pulpit, just like Avellone mentioned.
Well, as is typical in the insular circle of the Social Justice Warriors they didn’t take lightly, or kindly, to Avellone’s comments.
Self-identified Communist game designer Olivia Hill tweeted comments to undermine Avellone’s achievements within the industry.
Everyone seems aghast that Chris Avellone has shitty takes about “politics in games,” despite working on numerous very good very political games. Maybe just maybe take that as a lesson that Great Men aren’t solely responsible for great games.
— OLIVIA ★ HILL (@machineiv) June 1, 2019
Hill would go on to further chide Avellone for this statements, writing in a Twitter thread…
“Like, I’m aware of what he wrote in Fallout New Vegas. It wasn’t the good parts. It was the overwrought stupid parts. Like Ulysses.
“Yes, he worked on hyper political Alpha Protocol. He did some rewrites on an already fully formed story by a good writer.
“Fallout 2? Yeah his favorite part of that game is the character who literally tries to rape your character if you’re playing a woman.
“Also I think people have blinders about Fallout 2. It was very schlocky, full of nonsensical shallow pop culture Easter eggs and barely holds a candle to the first game.
“New Vegas: Lonesome Road is a prime example. Ulysses is ridiculously bad. He says nothing of value, clearly he thought he was profound, but he takes a million words to say nothing. The Ralphie story? BRILLIANT. He didn’t write that part.”
Jay Castello, a contributor at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, also took issue with Avellone’s comments.
— Jay Castello 🌻 (@jayplaysthings) May 31, 2019
More Socialists took aim at Avellone’s comments, mocking his statements and the games he worked on. Additional socialists and developers, like Jose Maia, also chimed in on the thread.
hey remember that one KOTOR 2 scene? the one where kreia chews you out over giving a homeless man five space bucks and shows you in a vision how you only increased his suffering? I’m not saying that scene was apolitical. I *am* saying I’m unsurprised that its writer thinks it was
— MechaDad Industries (@coolranchzaku) May 31, 2019
avellone’s prolonged milkshake ducking has been very uhh…. interesting to watch
— José Maia (@koldpt) May 31, 2019
Social media managers with pronouns in their profile were also quick to jump in to paint Avellone’s comments as being inherently racist, specifically painting Avellone’s statements as those associated with “white males”.
I like Avellone but this is a clear blind spot he shares with many other white male writers. JE Sawyer on the other hand, as misanthropic and cynical as he is, knows better.
— Nivenus (@nivenus) June 1, 2019
Robin Valentine, another games journalist and former editor at GamesMaster Magazine also took aim at Avellone, claiming that he made a #GamerGate-level tweet for wanting games to be apolitical instead of vehicles for agitprop.
When one of the most prolific and respected writers in the industry is burbling GG-level nonsense about keeping games ‘apolitical’, you know the rot runs deep. Incredibly disappointing.
— Robin Valentine (@robinlvalentine) June 1, 2019
Yet another member of the profile pronoun posse also laid into Avellone, with developer Aura Moom writing across multiple tweets…
“’I don’t condone games that make a political statement, they should ask QUESTIONS’ sounds like something straight out of ‘skeptic’ circles.
“anyway as usual the only people who believe things can be apolitical are people who fall into the “societal default” and are completely unaware of the political norms they impose in all their work
“I just keep coming back to ‘I don’t condone developers who who want to do political games or make a statement’”
“how incredibly egotistical do you have to be to say that you don’t ~condone~ an entire fundamental writing concept”
Keeping with the theme of profile-pronoun alums, narrative designer Paul “Ettin” Matijevic, who is working on Hard Wired Island, also made digs at Avellone, but deleted two of his tweets. Thankfully, there are archives of the tweets still ripe and available for your perusal.
Thankfully not everyone has been on board with the hate being pointed at Avellone. Some people recognized that he’s a noteworthy writer who has contributed greatly to the industry.
Like if someone on his level is a bad writer or a moron then uh.. wow that says a lot about the majority of game writers who are far far below him in terms of talent.
— Murry Soothsayer (@Dracology) June 1, 2019
So far journalists and Social Justice Warriors have contained their discontent towards Avellone’s opinion to social media, and a deluge of supercilious articles have yet to appear, but the nights are still young and E3 still is still a week away, so there’s a little bit of time for journalists to decide whether or not they’re going to take Avellone to the sociopolitical guillotine.
(Thanks for the news tip Lyle)