“NOT MY AMERICA” trumpets a new trailer for upcoming first-person shooter “Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.”
The capitalised text, overlaid on video of goose-stepping Nazi soldiers marching through the streets of the game’s fictional 1960s America, is the cornerstone of the upcoming game’s ad campaign.
There’s a simple reason for that: The series has always been about killing Nazis, either during World War II or thereafter. The most recent entries in the long-running series suppose an alternate history where Germany won WWII, controls Europe, and occupies the United States.
It’s no surprise, then, that the ad campaign for “Wolfenstein II” focuses on the dispelling of Nazis from the US — that’s what the game is about as well.
The surprise is that there are genuine Nazis marching through the streets of the US in 2017, and that’s put the game’s anti-Nazi ad campaign into a surprisingly, unnervingly relevant place.
And it’s put the game’s publisher, Bethesda Softworks, in a strange place.
“We don’t feel it’s a reach for us to say Nazis are bad and un-American,” Bethesda VP of marketing and PR Pete Hines told GamesIndustry.biz following the release of the most recent ad. “And we’re not worried about being on the right side of history here.”
The ad campaign also re-appropriates President Donald Trump’s famous campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” with a slight tweak: “#MakeAmericanNaziFreeAgain.” As such, some folks who voted for Trump are conflating the killing of Nazis in the game with real world advocacy for killing Trump supporters.
To be clear, the vast majority of responses to the ad’s debut were positive. We only spotted a handful of responses in the last 12 hours that even took issue with the ad, let alone defended Nazism.
Still, that Bethesda has to comment on this at all is telling unto itself. It’s not as though Bethesda, or the game’s development studio Machine Games, set out to make political commentary — as the name implies, this game is the second in a series. The first “Wolfenstein” game in this trilogy set the stage for “Wolfenstein II,” and that was years before the current political climate.
Here’s how Hines put it:
“At the time, none of us expected that the game would be seen as a comment on current issues, but here we are. 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. In ‘Wolfenstein’s’ case, 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.”
“Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus” launches on October 27 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC; the game’s also headed to the Nintendo Switch at some point in 2018.
Check out the latest trailer for the game — subtly titled, “NO MORE NAZIS” — right here:
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Oh a Trump joke, because the subtext is advocating murder of Trump supporters. Pretty funny, devs!
— Captain Red Skeleton (@mokraz1982) October 6, 2017