Helldivers 2: Manufacturing Consent & Behavioral Modification or Game Theory with Bob

By Lucifer Bob Apr8,2024

As many of you know I have been avidly playing Helldivers 2 (Steam, $39.99). But I’ve been playing mostly in the dark, that is I haven’t until very recently looked up much information about the game. I was told, ‘hey check out this cool game,’ and happy I did.

I could bitch about the bugs, the shortcomings of the game, or even the game-master Joel who is quite unique in online gaming. Maybe at some point I will cover those issues, but not today.

If you are unfamiliar, shame on you, because Helldivers is a fabulous shooter. It is everything I had hoped the game ‘Starship Troopers’ would be and much more, much deeper, much more strategic, which keeps the gameplay fresh and exciting. But that’s not what I want to write about either, because there is so much more going on than a simple shooter.

It’s what isn’t said and yet it is what is said too much. It’s the propaganda that sells us on missions as Helldivers to fight for our ‘managed democracy’. Let the algorithm decide who you should vote for, that’s what a smart Super-Earth Citizen does. And you’re a good citizen, aren’t you?!? I mean don’t you always strive to be “the best citizen you can be!?!”

These are the messages we receive from in-game high command, and the developers when they keep in character (yes, the devs role play as they relate real-world updates about the game – such as squashing leaks and rumors as disinformation from dissidents). But who are these dissidents, and what do bugs need with radio towers? These are questions one cannot ask, and who would you ask, no matter, bugs killed your, ‘err, someone’s family. 

And these messages, the essential lore driving the war/game forward, are all coupled with the unspoken reality that these messages are merely propaganda hiding another truth, which has inspired me to play and review the first game Helldiver. I have just recently purchased it, and I’ll be embarking on that journey soon enough. I will probably have played it some on stream (luc1f3rbob on twitch) before this has even come out.

But that brings me to this: I was curious as to what chatgpt might write about this topic, having a scholarly version of the AI. So I had it write a few essays for me on Helldivers 2 and geopolitics, focusing on such concepts as: Noam Chomsky’s ‘Manufacturing Consent’, behavioral modification, and game theory. 

After a few essays and back and forths with the chat-gpt-bot I started to get to what I think is the nitty gritty of the propaganda message. Again, it’s the lore that has me intrigued, it is the lore guiding this second game, and while subtle, it has me intrigued to learn more by not only playing the first game, but to dive deeper into the game and its developers. As I hear that they are very into geopolitics and pen & paper type RPGs/table top games.

Still, it’s a fun shooter, foremost, it is a great shooter. I mean, it’s Halo good, it’s Splitgate good, it’s Rocket League good. Hard, at first, yes! The game is hard but fair and learnable. It requires cooperation and strategy and if you are really good you can even learn to beat the hardest level solo, or so I am told (that it’s out there on youtube, people soloing level 9, the last level, aka ‘helldivers’).

Anyway, here is what I feel was the heart of the reply from my back and forth with chat-gpt4-scholar. I hope it gets you thinking about the game, gets you rethinking the in-game and various developer messages, as they do apply our everyday:

Motives for Creating and Perpetuating Enemies

Resource Control: Just as the conflict over oil with the Terminus Legion bugs in “Helldivers” reflects, real-world wars often revolve around securing valuable resources, whether it be oil, minerals, or geopolitical influence.

Political Power: The creation of a unifying enemy can consolidate political power, distract from domestic issues, and justify the expansion of government authority, as seen in both the “Helldivers” universe and various real-world examples.

Economic Gain: Warfare and the preparation for war can significantly benefit certain industries, such as defense and technology sectors, creating a vested interest in the perpetuation of conflict.

Social Cohesion: Manufacturing an enemy can foster a sense of unity and purpose within a society, channeling dissatisfactions and dissent toward an external threat rather than internal critique or division.

[In Summation]: The narrative of “Helldivers” and “Helldivers 2” mirrors the real-world dynamics of manufacturing enemies for political, economic, and social motives. By examining these parallels, we gain insights into the mechanisms of manipulation and control exercised by elites and the importance of critical engagement with media and political narratives. Recognizing these patterns enables us to better understand the complex motivations behind geopolitical strategies and the cultivation of enemies, both fictional and real.

So next time you load Helldivers 2, pay attention to the little things, to the unexplored areas, to the odd finds and seemingly stupid blurbs from things you want to interact with but only give you story, that story is valuable and gives clues to where this war is going and maybe even the reasons why we are ‘really’ fighting, if that is truly a singular reason, an explanation of the ins, outs and the real whyfores of these wars we’ve waged and won, and continue to fight. Talk with those people on your ship, they have something to say! 

Perhaps before the end we’ll get answers to how we have been manipulated, and for whose control and power?!? Until then I am off to hunt in the past (Helldivers) while I push forward, fighting for answers to our future (Helldivers 2). Because “Helldivers Never Die!” and neither does the obscured truth. For now both are frozen in time until it’s time for action, just like a waiting virus or a Helldiver in his Hellpod. But then again, perhaps this is all just disinformation from a dissident communication, you have been warned, Helldiver out.

Spread the love

Related Post

2 thoughts on “Helldivers 2: Manufacturing Consent & Behavioral Modification or Game Theory with Bob”
  1. Bob – good piece, thanks for sharing. I noticed AI inclusion instantly during the tutorial and was wondering where they might be going with this game (and many future games). I was disappointed that there wasn’t a solo campaign, but in a way it makes sense that you go this with others. I also wish there had been true twin stick shooting, a la Robotron, vs. aim and shoot with the trigger, but these are minor gripes, it does seem from your description a better Starship Troopers playable game than we’ve received to date. It’s a franchise that just screams: shoot the massive hordes of incoming bugs Robotron-style arcade-like frenzy.

  2. Hi Bob! I love your passion for this game. You’ve put some many hours into it and I consider you the authority of my friend on the games knowledge and mechanics. Have any of the other game mode in Pinball FX/M grabbed your attention as much as HellDivers? The “war” is always for eyeballs and dollars as we have a million options for Entertainment. Well writen prose Bob!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *