The current political landscape both within and outside the gaming industry has basically devolved into a torturous vacuum. Regardless of your political stance, mostly everyone will agree with me that it’s a good thing video games typically don’t touch contemporary politics. Now, a recent marketing campaign via Bethesda for their upcoming Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus title has stirred the pot, and once again, the subject is nazis.
The company ran a promotional video for the game that came with a caption: “Make America Nazi-Free Again. #NoMoreNazis #Wolf2.”
The game is set in an alternate history world in which the Allies failed, the Nazis conquered the world – even the American heartland. The goal in the game is to lead the rebellion against the Nazis as protagonist BJ Blazkowicz, and of course, kill lots of nazis.
Following the campaign, lots of detractors from both sides of the political spectrum either commended the company for condemning modern-day political movements like the Alt-Right, while others said the seemingly on-the-nose commentary on modern politics was stupid and out of place in the gaming industry. Endless debate and hysteria ensued, so naturally Bethesda had to clarify what they meant in their promo.
VP of PR and marketing at Bethesda, Pete Hines, said that Bethesda is “certainly aware of current events in America and how they relate to some of the themes in Wolfenstein II.” However, he noted that “Bethesda doesn’t develop games to make specific statements or incite political discussions. We make games that we think are fun, meaningful, and immersive for a mature audience.”
He went on to point out that the series has been a “decidedly anti-Nazi series since the first release more than 20 years ago.” He continued: “We aren’t going to shy away from what the game is about. We don’t feel it’s a reach for us to say Nazis are bad and un-American, and we’re not worried about being on the right side of history here.”
When it comes to the connection between modern day nazis and the ones you’re killing in the game, Hines said “none of us expected that the game would be seen as a comment on current issues, but here we are.” He also said that “it’s pure coincidence that Nazis are marching in the streets of America this year. And it’s disturbing that the game can be considered a controversial political statement at all.”
Finally, when naturally asked if the game is against nazis, Hines pointed out the obvious: “This is what our game is about,” he said. “It’s what this franchise has always been about. We aren’t afraid to embrace what BJ stands for and what Wolfenstein represents. When it comes to Nazis, you can put us down in the ‘against’ column.”
Bethesda’s comments echo the response from Nintendo when they got caught up in another controversy regarding Mario donning traditional Mexican garb. At the time, Nintendo COO and president Reggie Fils-Aimé said ““Making political statements are for other people to do. We want people to smile and have fun when they play our games.”
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is launching first across PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on October 27th and sometime next year for the Nintendo Switch.