Nazis in Gaming: Time to draw a line in the sand?


The other day I was suddenly struck by a rather odd realisation- I’ve been killing Nazis since the tender age of 7, back when I first got my grubby little mitts on a copy of Wolfenstein 3D. Games based around WW2 have been hugely popular for the last 10 years, and perhaps I’ve just hit my personal quota for German killing- but I’m beginning to find it all a bit tasteless…

Ooh, he said GERMAN there, not Nazi! Did you see that? Did you?

That’s right boys and girls- Germans. A word that’s become a little taboo in WW2 Nazi Shmups, and for good reason; Nazis for the purpose of entertainment have become aliens- faceless and soulless creatures that continue to act as the perfect punch bag for a generation of gamers obsessed with mindless FPS slogging. Killing Nazis is socially acceptable- the culling a group that no one will stand up to defend, least of all Germany… The German government’s admirable guilt for the events of WW2 still seems to be clearly reflected in the stoic stance they take on the portrayal of violence in their media distribution, particularly in video games…

Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not bringing beer and streamers to the Nazi party- I just think it’s important to understand the situation we’re thrown into in these generic WW2 games a little more clearly- were all of the Nazis evil? Of course not, so next time you storm an MG nest bear in mind the possibility you might have just whacked a couple of blokes who were never really into all that Hitler stuff, and would have much rather been on a package holiday in Denmark. This concept of humanizing Nazis isn’t socially unacceptable; films like Downfall do a damn fine job of telling a true story in a level-headed and reasonable manner- so why do we blindly accept iteration after iteration of SUPERNAZIBLAST To be released shamelessly on our beloved consoles?

Oh, and for anyone who’s read through all this without gracefully dipping their high-and-mighty hat to their chest, don’t forget that Hitler had a massive amount of respect for Britain due to the lovely empire we forced upon a large chunk of the globe back in our heyday- and if you’re over the pond in the U.S. then you may have been one of the many who went to the polling stations to buy tickets for the ‘Democracy World Tour’ we’re beginning to see flourish in the middle east- the global equivalent of Bob Geldoff showing up without invitation to your family BBQ to perform an impromptu gig.

So what’s my point? War in games- lets get clever.

If you’re going to base a game on real life events then do it tastefully- paint both sides of the canvas, put an emphasis on cause and effect- show WHY such events occur rather than taking advantage of the taboo nature of a subject in order to trivialize events without fear of repercussion. And with the recent increase of games depicting middle-eastern conflict, it’s more important than ever that we get this sorted out sharpish or things are gonna get messy.

Eat Buns, Not Bombs.


Matt works with a number of publishers as a research analyst for one of the world’s leading video game market research companies.

In his spare time he writes articles and records podcasts for DarkZero.