It became clear to us how international relations can affect the gaming industry. Gone are the days of all FPSes [First Person Shooters] being either World War II or sci-fi; in the new millennium, developers are on the hunt for enemies that are speculative but still plausible. Either they're rooted in real-life global hotspots (this spring's SOCOM 4 takes place around the shipping lanes of Southeast Asia), or they bring favorite punching bags into the future.
It's an interesting mix: two of Bush's "axis of evil" nations (only Iran is missing); countries with a history of Islamic terrorism (Indonesia and Afghanistan) or drug cartels (Mexico and Colombia); failed states (Somalia and Chad); and the BRIC economies—Brazil, Russia, India, and China—whose growing influence in world trade is obviously a threat to U.S. and European dominance. I'm surprised to see no Libya, no Pakistan, and no Yemen—but perhaps those fictional fights are still in development. Either way, the psychological mechanics of video game villainry provide fascinating food for thought. The popular choices have a delicate blend of familiarity and foreignness, and not only reflect current events but also gesture toward a speculative future.
Whether these conventions help gamers understand the world better or just further unhelpful stereotypes is, of course, another question.
Infographic and story via Complex.