Nazis are bad. That shouldn’t set off alarms as a controversial statement in 2017, but the backlash to Wolfenstein 2’s marketing campaign would say otherwise. So how did playing Wolfenstein 2 the same week a white nationalist rally was held on my college campus feel? Invigorating!
Grace Walker and BJ Blazkowicz are personifications of the anger I had been feeling all week. A rifle held in one hand and his smartphone in the other, a student, former KKK grand-dragon and current neo-Nazi (with the swastika tattoo to prove it) had threatened groups he opposed at my college over Facebook. Following his suspension from campus as a result of his threats, white nationalists sent out a Facebook post, urging support for the neo-Nazi.
It was yet another wake-up call in a year full of wake-up calls that Nazis still exist.
But don’t let their existence confuse you. Don’t let the free speech allowed to “dapper white nationalist” Richard Spencer fool you. Don’t let the president’s response to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia fool you. There is only one side, and that’s the side without Nazis.
Wolfenstein 2 accomplishes what few video games ever can, by taking a side and sticking to it. Blazkowicz and crew are out to start a revolution, wake-up the American people and free the United States from Nazi rule. The Wolfenstein series has been around for 25 years and this alternate history timeline was never meant to be topical in 2017. But developer MachineGames saw the turmoil and the political upheaval occurring during their 3-year development cycle and didn’t shy away from it.
Newspaper clips and in-game collectibles reference the modern day, with one in-game newspaper even alluding to the now infamous MotherJones article. Characters like BJ’s father demonstrate how easy some will fall into an acceptance of Nazi ideals. And Publisher Bethesda has faced backlash for “politicizing” their game…a game about Nazis.
In an interview with VICE, PR director for Bethesda Pete Hines was asked whether or not they (Bethesda) were poking the hornet’s nest with its marketing of Wolfenstein 2. Hines said “Maybe a little bit, but the hornet’s nest is full of Nazis so f**k those guys…”
Hines’ words and the plot of Wolfenstein 2 is what I needed this week. Inside of one of the best first-person shooters I’ve played in recent memory is a no bulls**t approach to storytelling, one that firmly plants its feet and your controller on the right side of history.
My fellow college students and professors did that too, outnumbering white nationalists with counter-protesters 25-to-1. In a week full of formulaic statements by our University President, it was nice to play a game that wholeheartedly embraces the idea of #NoMoreNazis
It goes without saying that Nazis are still bad and Wolfenstein 2 is a fantastic game, a must-play this year.