Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney this afternoon sought to clarify controversial statements he made about the role of video games in today’s divisive political climate.
Delivering the DICE summit keynote in Las Vegas this morning, Sweeney said that games were a valid medium for making political statements. He referenced Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird as a work of art that contained messages that “makes people think about things.”
But he went on to say that ”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 companies “should get the marketing departments out of politics,” according to a report on IGN.
This created significant push-back and confusion on Twitter. Was Sweeney arguing that games companies can make games with political messages, but should not talk about them in any way that recognizes their political content?
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.”
This seems like a fair statement, although it doesn’t really address his earlier “church and state” argument. If games companies insist on an apolitical policy, how exactly do “creatives” make political games? Nor does it clarify how a marketing department should address political content, in a world where games companies are “divorced from politics.”
In an additional tweet, he addressed political controversies and differing opinions: “When a company operates an ecosystem where users and creators can express themselves, they [the company] should … be a neutral moderator. Else the potential for undue influence from within or without is far too…