You don’t have to go far to find a news story that declares that video games are responsible for a range of criminal activities, breakdowns in society or failed marriages. You’ll also then find reactive reports from gamers who declare all of these reports as little more than lazy journalism, but sometimes I think we all need to accept the fact that not all video games are innocent of all accusation. Some ‘games’ are little more than a nasty concept dressed up as a game and over the next few weeks I will be looking at twelve examples of indefensible, controversial or just plain wrong, making up my ‘Dirty Dozen’. Not all will be abhorrent some will simply be highly questionable, and I will attempt to approach each one with an open mind and would love discussion from readers in the comments field.
We will be starting off with the White Power infused ‘Ethnic Cleansing’. Not a pleasant game at all, and deserving of it’s place on the Dirty Dozen list without a doubt, but should I dismiss it without playing it first? Well I wish I could have, I had a huge issue with this game when I was first made aware of it in a Louis Theroux documentary years ago and my mind was made up, but the whole point of these articles is to approach difficult subject matter and do so objectively.
So the first challenge that faced me was actually getting the game in the first place. I could have bought it straight from the maker’s website, paying £9.47 to people who made a game that I already loathed, putting money towards Resistance Records who are closely linked to the National Alliance and produces albums by Neo-Nazi and White Supremacist singers/groups. I didn’t want to go down that route especially given that the game’s page seemed to revel in the obvious controversy surrounding the title:
“The most politically incorrect video game ever made. Run through the ghetto blasting away various blacks and spics in an attempt to gain entrance to the subway system, where the jews have hidden to avoid the carnage. Then, if YOU’RE lucky…. you can blow away jews as they scream “Oy Vey!”, on your way to their command center.”
I spoke to a friend of mine who wrote an exceptional paper on White Supremacy at University and he had a copy that he bought when compiling research. He popped it in the post, and I kept my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t fall open in my postman’s sack. When it arrived I left it in the envelope for some time, it felt like the Ark of the Covenant. What was inside could have been incredibly powerful and hateful, and I wasn’t in the right state of mind to subject my senses to it. Eventually, with a knotted stomach I took the plunge and installed it onto my PC. My face didn’t melt off.
The game installed quickly, and I was soon presented with a very basic title screen – something that would echo through the ‘game’ – that declared that ‘The Race War Has Begun!’ and that ‘White Revolution is the ONLY Solution!’ The main menu offers an ‘Information’ button so I clicked it and the following screen popped up:
Now the point of these articles is not to pull holes in the shoddy logic of the people who makes these games, but this ‘plot’ is more outlandish than anything in any Suda 51 game, which says a lot.
Starting the game put me in a room with a kind of ‘Y’ shaped symbol – which I later found out was the symbol used by the National Alliance. As a game it was awfully dated – obviously it’s been around for years, but it’d have felt dated on launch too – and the controls were very poor. Juddering across the upper floor of a building I made my way down the stairs and immediately heard an ‘enemy’ outside the door. Animalistic grunts to be precise, coming from a ‘black’. At this point I wanted to simply turn the game off immediately, but I know that ignoring an issue doesn’t help and that I needed to experience the game for myself. I shot the ‘enemy’ and he died with a monkey’s scream. It was almost laughably infantile, like someone in a primary school – raised by racist parents obviously – created a game for a project using lolly sticks and a 3D FPS software maker. The walls of buildings were daubed with posters declaring the ‘Loss of Innocence’ among white children, detailing Jewish conspiracies and the movie poster for Save the Last Dance edited to replace the male lead’s head with that of a gorilla. Puerile and abhorrent as it was I struggled on – hindered by dreadful black fog that impared my vision, and the obvious tone of the game – eventually finding some hispanic characters – dressed in ponchos and sombreros, obviously. My endless supply – or at least it seemed endless – of ammunition was not enough to stop me being gunned down with regular frequency and I felt good about that. Finishing the first ‘level’ I entered a subway system and was tasked with going after the Jews within. Finally I got to the control room from which the game proposed that the Jewish conspiracy was being ran from and was told to kill Ariel Sharon (the one time Prime Minister of Israel.) I, at this point turned the game off, deleted it from my hard drive and sealed the disk back in it’s envelope, hoping that my friend may consider sealing it in a crate in a governmental storage facility somewhere.
Take away the obvious issues that the game suffers as a result of low budget and simplistic design all we can really discuss is the content. If it had been photo realistic it would have been no less, or more offensive to me on every conceivable level. As a strong believer in the right of free speech it put me in a quandary. I would like to see this game, and other products like it, wiped from the face of the Earth. I don’t see a place for products that incite hatred, fuel tensions and encourage violence. My good friend put it very aptly:
Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom to hate.
Which is exactly the point.
What I gained, and I struggled to find anything worthy of note, from playing this game is confirmation of my fears. I have never been made to feel physically sick by a video game before, and while this is an independently produced title aimed at a very specific type of person, I genuinely feel that my time taken playing the game for myself, to judge it myself was worthy. It has taken me two days to write this feature as I simply cannot sit and think about the game for too long without the nausea returning, even now as I finish it off I feel compelled to throw up.
When we immediately defend our hobby, no matter how passionately we feel it is sometimes fair for someone to point an accusing finger at some aspects. With Ethnic Cleansing it should be the finger from the early National Lottery adverts. While I cannot recommend anyone actually attempt to source and play Ethnic Cleansing I wouldn’t be surprised if this article sparks a curiosity in some of you. That’s normal, and you should perhaps consider indulging it, if only to see how you feel when presented with such hatred. You can always watch this YouTube video of the first level too, but be warned it doesn’t make for pleasant viewing, and is obviously NSFW. The news is always filled with doom and gloom, but a video game is supposed to (mostly) be a form of entertainment and while Ethnic Cleansing deals with a very heavy subject matter it’s biggest crime is that it is presented as a form of entertainment. It is interactive propaganda designed purely to fuel divisions and hatred in susceptible people. The fact is that the world will always have extremism, hatred and violence. It is in our very nature to be that way, and I have no control over what is, or isn’t created. What I do have control over is my choice to experience certain aspects. In this case I’m glad I did, but it’s not something I look forward to repeating.
So there you go, a new feature is created and I start off with the grand daddy of all controversial video games. In future instalments I will be looking at sexualised video games and asking if there is an argument for hardcore pornographic games as well as looking at some more popular and successful titles that have walked down a grubby path towards good sales, and asking if the games could have sold without the controversy that was created. Of course, as I said before, this is supposed to spark discussion and debate and I welcome that, but do try to remain objective. We don’t have to like other people’s ideology and beliefs, and from this title in particular I am trying to differentiate the ‘game’ from the people that made it. This is difficult, of course they are inexorably associated, but worth the effort. I cannot stand up and simply dismiss the game as not relevant in the discussion of whether gaming can be detrimental to society or that it can’t have a corrupting effect. The sad fact is some people will see the game as supporting their viewpoints and maybe encouraging them to delve further into the horrifying world of white supremacy.
However you feel about the game, drop us a message in the comments field.
As a little side note I would also like to point out that as part of this feature I had to do a lot of research into the game to get screens and such, what I learned was that the majority of the game’s screens appeared under Google’s ‘Safe Search’ filter. There was also a huge amount of images from genuine ethnic cleansing atrocities. All very shocking and surprised me that it got through the filter when the word ‘boob’ brings up NO results whatsoever. What does that say about filtering web content?