A Wolfenstein 3D mod that shows the gruesome torture and dismemberment of concentration camp inhabitants has caused a surge of stern criticism from the Anti-Defamation League.
Nazis are to FPSs what orcs are to RPGs: an old favourite enemy that are always immensely satisfying to kill.
Nazis are the “well-worn shoe” bad guys that are so often trotted out to be slaughtered in record numbers; they’re a comfortable fit and provide a satisfying feeling when you stomp into them.
The great-grandaddy of Nazi-blasters, Wolfenstein 3D, has been modded countless times by reverent fans of the 1992 old-school FPS. However, it’s not the Nazis that are the cause of controversy in Sonderkommando Revolt, but the inclusion of concentration camp prisoners as NPCs.
Wolfenstein‘s classic, blocky graphics and simple animation make the scenes in this video seem tame compared to the meticulously detailed and shockingly realistic cutting edge games of today. However, the automatic association with the horrific brutality of the real life, historic Holocaust is perhaps what makes the relatively primitive graphics more disturbing for some viewers than they would otherwise be.
The stark imagery of the gaunt emaciated bodies, shaven heads and striped overalls, piled up bodies and torture scenes are, by the Anti-Defamation League’s reckoning, too close to the mark.
While war, extreme violence and gore are nothing new in video games, taboo subjects such as civilian deaths and, of course, historic genocide, still come with a large “handle with care” label for games developers.
Representatives of the Anti-Defamation League claim that the Holocaust is subject material that should be off-limits to video games, as they consider it an inappropriate medium for such a sensitive topic. They called the game a “crude effort to depict Jewish resistance during this painful period which should never be trivialized”.
Sonderkommando Revolt creators Team Raycast said that the purpose of the game was never meant as a political statement designed to educate players. They claimed that its agenda was very simple: to create “Blast the Nazis fun”.
Are there certain subjects that are inappropriate to be displayed/explored in video games? Or should the gaming industry be afforded the same freedom as other forms of media (art or film for example) to approach any and all subjects?