The Alt-Right Thinks ‘Wolfenstein: The New Colossus' Is Racist to White People

Some gamers are saying the game is "politically correct."

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Jun 12 2017, 12:36pm

Sunday night at a pre-E3 press conference Bethesda Softworks unveiled its lineup of new games, including Wolfenstein: the New Colossus, which builds on the gaming industry's decades-long tradition of making first-person shooters in which the player brutally murders Nazis.

Some people on the internet don't like that. But it's not because the game trivializes the horrors of World War II or because it grossly celebrates violence. As far as I can tell, they are mad because the "politically correct" game degrades Nazis and is "anti-white."

Here are just a few examples from 4Chan, Reddit, and YouTube comments on the game's trailer:

Wolfenstein: The Colossus is the sequel to 2014's Wolfenstein: The New Order, which is itself a reimagining of 1992's Wolfenstein 3D, an early first-person shooter that largely defined the genre. There is nothing in The Colossus that is all that different than the previous game or the original. It is set in an alternate history where the Nazis won World War II and occupy the United States. As William "B.J." Blazkowicz, players will form a resistance and kill many Nazis in a gory, disgusting fashion.

So why is this game offending the alt-right? One reason, it seems, is that there is a shot in the trailer in which two KKK members, dressed in white hoods and all, are seen palling around with a Nazi officer. I've seen several comments that take offense at the suggested comparison. As in: They don't think what the Nazis tried to achieve and what the KKK believes in are the same, though at the same time these commenters weren't speaking ill of Nazis either.

Another reason is that the trailer features two characters that rubbed the alt-right the wrong way: An African-American woman who appears to be some kind of rebel leader in the anti-Nazi insurgency, and a white man from the South who references the "proletariat" and rants against Wall Street and imperialism. The former, they say, is racist to white people, and the latter is a communist, which is even worse than being a Nazi.

Lastly, the reality of 2017 is that internet culture and gaming culture in particular is at a place where people will openly defend Nazis. As author of The Ambivalent Internet Whitney Phillips has written for Motherboard, it's hard if not impossible to parse out which of these online comments are sincerely and ideologically in support of Nazis, and which are just saying these things in order to agitate. But it also doesn't matter because the effect is the same: A loud and unapologetic contingent of people online are saying that it's unfair to paint Nazis as villains.