|B.J. Blazkowicz from Wolfenstein: the New Order|
"Let's start with the picture of the main character first. Square-jawed, blonde-haired, looks muscular. In short, everything a "real man" is supposed to be. That kind of image implicitly tells you that this is the kind of man you want doing your shooting for you. It denies the possibility that any other kind of man could do that. It's an assumption that you can't choose another image for your protagonist, so this is your man. He's an ideal, both in terms of looks, and of action. His face says "I'm strong and I'm violent."
(As an aside, he also looks really Aryan, which in a Nazi-shooting game is problematic in and of itself. But as that's not what this article is about, we move on.)" - Tracy Barnett
|Arnold, B.J. Blazkowicz from Wolfenstein 3D, and B.J. Blazkowicz from Wolfenstein: the New Order|
As you can see from the grouping of difficulty screens the Wolfenstein 3D had all the same settings except for Uber and contained the same sort of pictures to express the difficulty level of each setting - including the bonnet and pacifier that graces the current Can I Play, Daddy? setting. For Tracy these titles and their accompanying pictures express a larger cultural narrative around what it means to be a Man which he goes on about at some length. However I don't see that being expressed in the titles. Rather it continues on a long tradition in first person shooter games, which Wolfenstein 3D started, where the game is challenging the player's skill on every level from level select where the mind games begin to the actual game where the player's skills are put to the test.
The other thing that we discussed on twitter was the violence associated with this sort of game. For Tracy, and I don't think I'm putting words into his mouth here, that violence as the only way to deal with Nazis is a problem. Now Tracy didn't have the benefit of having played the game or even of having watched a play through of the game to give him a greater understanding of what's happening in the game and why killing Nazis in this context is a good and necessary thing. He didn't realize that the Nazis in this alternative timeline are still portrayed as the sort of people who attempted to exterminate Jews from the planet and that rape and murdered their way across the world. He wasn't aware that the Nazis murder a whole hospital of mentally deficients early in the story. He didn't know that the game builds a relationship between you and a diverse group of characters who the Nazis are constantly trying to kill (and in some cases succeed). But still, they're fucking Nazis.
Nazis are not good people who were defending their homeland from an aggressive force allied against them. They invaded other countries, murdered millions of civilians, performed grotesque human experiments (which are mirrored in the game), and in general behaved in the worst way possible for human beings to act. They are portrayed accurately in the game with people being forced into the party and soldiers gleefully murdering anyone not of the right racial stock. So is killing them the only way to deal with Nazis?
If you'd like to watch some of the actual game, which is a lot of fun if you're into first person shooters, then click on the video below by +Jesse Cox. Jesse's play through of the game is enjoyable and he has a fantastic personality that keeps you coming back through each of the videos in the series. He's done a lot of great play throughs since he started his channel and I cannot recommend him highly enough as he's a clever player with a quick wit.