It’s not me, it’s you…
In mid 2014 a controversy around the 2D dogfighting game Luftrausers exploded. Dutch studio Vlambeer has been accused of portraiting a “edgy, stylized faux-Nazi aesthetic“. In a nutshell: killing people is fine, unless you’re a bad guy.
«We do have to accept that our game could make some people uncomfortable. […] The fact is that no interpretation of a game is ‘wrong’. When you create something, you leave certain implications of what you’re making.»
Being a Nazi (or not) doesn’t change the game in any way; however, people still want to be reassured that the thousands of lives they are taking are for a higher good. Like it happened to Carmageddon, it’s not the action itself that is condemned, but it’s context.
The progression in many games is simply based on morally questionable actions, such as killing and stealing. And for the vast majority of them, there is no alternative. Remember RAPTUS: if you want to progress, you have to kill. The way games often go around this is by exploiting “the good guy” cliché: the “it’s not you, it’s me” reversed from the perspective of the enemy. Bad guys are bad: they deserve to be killed, and by doing so you’re making the world a better place. The definition of “bad” varies, but it often orbits around the concept of xenophobia. Whether it’s robots, aliens, Nazis or zombies. Game developer Dan Pearce exploited this with his game 10 Second Ninja, which exasperates the concept of enemy by including robot Nazis from space.
The game features a less-controversial version in which all references to Nazism are removed. Including Robot-Hitler’s moustache.