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Ctrl, Alt-Right, Delete: How the alt-right are exploiting videogames

I woke up last week to read that Dan Harmon, one of the creative forces behind the excellent Rick and Morty, had publicly denounced a number of the show’s fans after they had launched a hate campaign against one of the show’s writers.

She deserved it, of course; after all, she was a woman, and there’s no place for them in the entertainment industry. Besides J.K Rowling, or Jane Austen, or Virginia Woolf, or Mary Shelley, or Emily Bronté, or Harper Lee, or Agatha Christie, or Stephanie Meyer, or Björk, or Amanda Palmer, or Billie Holiday or… what have women ever done to provoke and entertain the masses?

It’s not the first time this vehement woman-hating has polluted new media, and it won’t be the last (although a cartoon about an angry scientist and his wet-dreaming sidekick would be a hell of a hill to die on). Just ask us gamers; we’ve witnessed sexual and racial abuse ever since 12-year olds discovered Halo 2 and high-speed internet connections.

Like the news, like television and like the internet, the alt-right is watching videogames like a hawk – and they’re ready to cry foul whenever developers avoid the opportunity to be racist, sexist troglodytes. Their bizarre tantrums and misunderstanding of ‘free speech’ would be hilarious, if the hateful poison running through it all wasn’t so worrying.

The most poignant example of this – and an unfortunate instance of gaming hitting mass media for all the wrong reasons – is GamerGate, an orchestrated hate campaign against developer Zoe Quinn. ‘Cunningly’ disguised as a protest for journalistic integrity, it was a movement based on a single accusation, with an ex-boyfriend of Quinn claiming she had exchanged sexual favours for positive coverage of her game Depression Quest.

Apparently, this was all the basement-dwellers needed; latching on to the story as if it were the single most shocking development in the industry, they began a crusade for truth and justice, fighting the Quinn tyranny via the valiant tactics of doxing attempts, death threats and intimidating allusions to rape. “Let’s see if we can make her kill herself”, one crusader chillingly suggested on 4Chan, clearly not drowning in the violent, sexist undercurrent that GamerGate definitely wasn’t propagating. The fact that all other enemies in this campaign were women fighting for equal treatment in the games industry was, of course, just a long string of coincidences.

It was safe to say then, and safer now, that this had nothing to do with any moral upstanding and everything to do with a far-right feeding frenzy. And whilst it did nothing to ruin the female industry pundits, it attracted the attention of the right; even wraith-like bilge pump Milo Yiannopoulos got his talons well and truly into the cause, his previous comments about gamers being fat, lazy virgins presumably absolved by the passage of time.

The excuse of ‘journalistic integrity’ had given the alt-right exactly the vague, ethical pretence they needed if they were going to be ‘The Good Guys’. From there, the seeds were sown and, somehow, they were given their ill-gotten relevance in the videogame medium.

It behoves the alt-right to have their fingers on the pulse of videogaming – even if contemporary entertainment doesn’t sit with the centuries-old doctrine of fascism, shaking its fist angrily at those liberal, fun-loving whippersnappers. But painful as it is to admit, the right are a crafty bunch that needs to be two goose-steps ahead if they’re to push back the progressive ‘threat’.

Games are their ‘in’; the most modern, popular form of entertainment amongst their target generation, now more profitable than the music and film industry combined, and with enough of an online presence for them to scoop up an audience. Some of them might generally care about gaming, but a lot of them care more about what it can do for their cause.

These people want to indoctrinate their future members from a young age. Hatred, after all, is learned, so it makes sense to reign in the youngsters while they’re impressionable. Play against the average kid online and not only will he be gunning down virtual foreigners, he’s perfectly comfortable shouting “n****r” to cover up his own failures; it doesn’t indicate any innate prejudice, but it gives ‘recruiters’ something to go on.

If this sounds a little bit tin-foil hat to you, then bear in mind that targeting ‘Da Yoof’ with modern media isn’t a new tactic for the far right – even if previous attempts have fallen hilariously wide of the mark.

The British National Party has a youth wing of its own, whose dire puppet mascot, Billy the Brit, regaled young ‘uns with a delightful little YouTube poem about Great British figures who just happened to be white. They’ve also infiltrated British schools via governing bodies and teaching assistant roles. If this sort of thing can happen uncontested, it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine online gaming circles becoming a target.

This might be how games such as Kill the Faggot and FemiNazi 3000 slipped through Steam Greenlight’s frankly shambolic vetting service. Though Kill the Faggot’s overtly hateful content meant it was removed within two hours of sale, FemiNazi 3000 endures with content that’s more provocative than pronounced. Naturally, the developers have defended each game’s existence on the lazy basis of ‘satire’. Kill the Faggot developer Randall Herman insists his game was some revelatory comment on leftwing sensitivities. It wasn’t, of course, and a two minute Google search not only destroys this assertion, but shows Randall up as the absolute piece of work that he is.

FemiNazi 3000 is more obviously silly, yet fails to hide its mean-spirited origins given how familiar it is with far-right terminology. By the developer’s own bidding, the game’s Steam forum is an absolute cesspit; full of unrelated Jewish slurs, alt-right memes and numbing repetitions of the words ‘triggered’ and ‘snowflake’. The game’s disclaimer claims not to defend or shame, but within seconds it’s obvious which side of the fence our developer and his fragile male audience are on.

But if two low-profile games are providing the ammunition, it’s two triple-A releases that have the alt-right shooting themselves in the foot. Having settled into the gaming community so comfortably, the mob has begun making incredulous claims of victimising in some of the most delicious self-satire imaginable.

Far Cry 5 is the latest in Ubisoft’s series of despot murder simulators; only this time, in a blatant endorsement of white genocide, its antagonists are predominantly white, Catholic Americans. If you ignore the fact that the series previously framed itself on the guilt-free massacring of Africans and Asians, this might have been shocking.

It would have been even more shocking, however, if Far Cry 5 actually was an outspoken criticism of Catholicism, and an advocate of violence against whites – so it should come as no surprise that it’s neither. This hasn’t deterred the right, convinced that the game is an affront on their principles, but then a lot of things look bad if you squint really hard and replace the context with some twisted alternative of your own.

So it’s with the latest Wolfenstein game – Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – that our alt-right friends might almost have a point. “Yeah, sure, let’s kill people whose ideas differ from our own” whines one Twitter user, appalled that the 35-year-old series will continue the theme of shooting Nazis in the face when this latest entry – the ninth in a series which has been going since the early 1980s – drops later this year.

Unlike Ubisoft, who have seemingly shrugged off the Far Cry 5 controversy and its journey to nowhere, MachineGames are swimming gleefully in salty fascist tears.

Early game footage, in which two Nazis criticise ‘oppressive left’ violence towards their regime, is a pitch-perfect sendup (even if it does end with both of them being brutally murdered). Meanwhile, the “NO MORE NAZIS” trailer title stuck two fingers up at the fragile demographic, publisher Bethesda strolling right up to the fascist gaze and giving it a good old-fashioned curb-stomp.

That self-proclaimed Nazis and their far-right chums think they can amend the politics of gaming demonstrates how little they know of the medium. Publishers won’t bow to alt-right pressure for the sake of broadening an audience. It already has an audience; a sizeable one that has shot so many virtual goose-steppers in the knackers it was dangerously close to getting bored.

If anything, the full extent of the far-right invasion will be making that trope entertaining once again.

So thanks, I guess?

26 Comments

  1. Right, if anyone criticizes or dislikes a woman it has to be misogyny. American liberals sure come off as a bunch of delusional freaks nowadays. It reminds me of middle ages witch hunts. You see the devil everywhere, without realizing that you are the ones who are pulling progress back.

    Haven’t read further than the first paragraph or two, because the titles makes it obvious enough what the rest of it is going to be. Just for fun, I searched “gamergate” and bingo. It’s always the same old whining and fussing about imaginary issues and setting a line between who’s an evil meanie (insert other insulting qualifiers here) alt-righters and you. It’s pathetic.

  2. Oh John, bless your little heart. Did the mean old lefty frighten you?
    Calling foul on the targeted abuse of women isn’t a ‘liberal agenda’. It’s called being a decent human being. If you’re that troubled by those of us who would defend against prejudice you might want to consider that you have underlying troubles of your own. Your assertion that we’re ‘whining and fussing about imaginary issues’ is wonderfully entertaining, given your terrified, immediate response – one you typed before reading the whole article (although, for the sake of your blood pressure, I’d recommend against it).
    The article assumes that the reader has the intelligence to know the difference between the fair and balanced criticism of a female, and targeted hatred of women. In your case, that assumption appears to have been misplaced.

  3. @John – If you didn’t read the whole article, your opinion of it is based on your own prejudices, and is therefore void.

    It was neither “whiny” nor “pathetic”.

    While the author obviously comes down on one side of the political divide, the article is a commentary; not the hysterical ramblings of a leftie snowflake. It is humorous and well-supported with examples.

    Thanks for a concise history of Alt-Right adventures in video games – enjoyable read.

  4. I look forward to swimming gleefully in salty fascist tears.

  5. “I look forward to swimming gleefully in salty fascist tears.”
    As do we.

  6. I’m a right-leaning conservative, and it pains me every time I hear people take about “the alt-right” and the usual issues that surround them. It pains me because it reflects poorly on an entire side of the political spectrum who do not share those views. I don’t want to be mislabeled any more than someone on the other side of the aisle. In short, I blame the media for giving “the alt-right” a voice to begin with. If they’re crazy, if they spout hate, don’t give them a platform. But every time the media brings them up, they get a chance to spout hate. Maybe if we stopped talking about them, giving them the ability to get their voices out there as easily, we could move past these issues and continue onward towards a better future.

  7. Nazi taking the moral high ground? Was Auswitz built on a hill?

  8. The only thing that ticks me off about Wolfenstein The New Colossus is that it rips off The Man in the High Castle and yet there’s no Imperial Japanese to kill, variety is the spice of life, not playing it safe with just with zee Nazis.

  9. “Publishers won’t bow to alt-right pressure for the sake of broadening an audience”

    Yup, and thankfully less and less publishers and developers are bowing to SJW/Alt-left pressure by being complete hacks and shoehorning various unnecessary elements into their games for the sake of blatantly pandering to some group or groups of annoying fucking crybabies. This goes both ways.

    The less publishers and developers worry about offending children and the more they focus on, not only making good games that WORK but having the balls to stand by their artistic vision and make what they truly want to make; the better games will be and the closer they will be to being actual works of art.

  10. Man, it really boggles my mind.
    Whenever someone writes about how to be a decent and intelligent person on this planet, some fascist troll isn’t far away to denounce him as left, liberal and whiny.

    Well, i am neither left, nor liberal. And especially not whiny.
    I am a human being with common sense, who doesn’t give two s**** about Zoe Quinn making a game.
    Who cares if she did all the things? If her game is good, go on and play it, if not than don’t.
    But starting a f****** campaign to destroy some girls and prove your superiority is ridiculous and shows where your mental health stands.

    And by the way, to me, there is no such thing as “right”, “alt-right” or “conservative”.
    You guys are a bunch of racist and fascist w******, who think very highly of themselves. With your twisted and disgusting view of this world.
    It really makes me sick, to see that my hobby is getting poisoned by scum like you. Even here on CaneAndRinse.
    So f*** your insidious simple minded opinion fuelling and your white supremacy.

    Thank you Ryan for writing this. I like you guys even more now.

  11. @That Guy “And by the way, to me, there is no such thing as “right”, “alt-right” or “conservative”.
    You guys are a bunch of racist and fascist w******, who think very highly of themselves. With your twisted and disgusting view of this world.”

    This is the problem with SJW’s; they view everything through their own lens, disagree your a Nazi.

    I honestly expect a more nuanced view from C&R.

    I didn’t realize that Leon and the gang were all SJW Commies.

  12. @Steve

    Whilst I think “That Guy” is wrong to claim that Conservatives are a bunch of racists or fascists (I’m not a fan of either, but I have Conservative-voting friends who are certainly *not* Nazis), you’re in absolutely no position to accuse people of saying “you’re a Nazi if you disagree” when you sign off with the assertion that we’re a bunch of “SJW Commies”. The door swings both ways, pal.

    When you say you want “a more nuanced view from Cane and Rinse”, you might want to provide one of your own. As it is, you come across as a grown man throwing his toys out of a pram because a website about video games doesn’t share his world view.

    Frankly, I am basking gleefully in these angry right-leaning responses. Have any of you stopped and thought; “Hang about, might I be making LESS of a case for my opinion when I bawl like a spoiled teenager?”

  13. @R Not really mate tbh.

    Tends to be that the SJW types are long gone and beyond reasonable discussion.

    Its just a shame because the podcast is stellar and i really enjoy it; please don’t ruin it with politics, its too divisive as this thread illustrates.

  14. LOL! I knew it! There comes another one crawling from the gutters of society.
    Just reading and thinking what you want. Everybody who thinks different is a “Social Justice Warrior” or a Commie and views everything through their own lens. Right, STEVE?

    You want a more nuanced view from Cane and Rinse, yet don’t even realize, that you are insulting them of being Commies and “Social Justice Warriors” one sentence later.
    There is no nuanced way in this, STEVE. If you are stupid enough to start a campaign against some girls (who by the way took this free PR with open arms and made a lot of money) and have a problem with shooting Nazis in freaking Wolfenstein, then it is very clear to me, what your values and agenda are.

    Like i said before, i don’t give a crap about defending some hipsters and their games.
    But i know what the NSDAP did in Germany and i know what the Soviets did in the rest of the world. And i know very well, what your knew breed of idiots are doing now.

    This s*** you “super race” nonsense d***heads are preaching about killed people then and kills people now, just for being different than your “Herren Rasse”.
    Honestly, you people lost your right to have an opinion, because there is no decency left nor a brain to back it up.

    You really proved my point STEVE. A fine example of a racist troll.

    @R
    Hey, thanks for your response. About “conservatives”. What does a “conservative” do? He conserves the values of his ancestors and homeland. And for me, these values are based on imperialism, fascism and supremacy of the Caucasian race.
    Maybe you tell your friends that.

  15. @thatguy

    “He conserves the values of his ancestors and homeland. And for me, these values are based on imperialism, fascism and supremacy of the Caucasian race.”

    I am no fan of the Tories, but come on, really ffs.

    This is why you cant reason with an SJW.

  16. for the record, i recon Leon & pals would probably be quite happy being called Commies.

  17. @ThatGuy
    Don’t get me wrong – I’ve tried to get to the bottom of why so many of my friends (not a lot, but enough to surprise me) vote Conservative, and their reasons very rarely come down to an imperialist or fascist ideology. If anything, their responses are little more than “Well, I can’t vote for Corbyn, can I?”. Frustratingly, that’s the extent of their reasoning. Thankfully, however, that does give me (slightly) more authority to explain what a dumb argument that is.
    Conservatives, for me, are at their worst a bunch of flag-waving, stubborn traditionalists whose idea of a decent society was buried long ago, after the rest of the UK decided it was quite good to be forward-thinking individuals. But that’s them at their worst; the few educated Conservative voters I know have, above most, fiscal priorities. Now, I couldn’t give a sh*t about fiscal issues, or whether I can get a nice tax break from my cushty big-city job, but to them, well… it’s important. They think Britain’s economy is of utmost importance, and that an austerity government is the way to go. I don’t agree, at all, but nor do I think that this indicates a hateful intent on their behalf. In fact, I challenge the idea that Conservatives value “the supremacy of the Caucasian race”. One of my white, Tory-voting friends is dating a strict Muslim man. Conservatism is not strictly about race.
    Of course, you can absolutely (and easily) find some uncomfortable links between Conservative governments and racist ideology, and much like you I find it disgusting and worrying. But to say it is founded on racism and fascism is no more accurate than saying that everybody on the left is a Marxist who thinks we need to adopt the principles of the Zimbabwean government. Both ideas swing hard to either side of the political pendulum, but the extent that that pendulum swings is very, very variable.
    I would encourage you to speak to and understand some of your Conservative voting friends (if you have any – I know how strongly political opinions can shape the friends we make). Doing so is how I have brought some of them round to my logic, as well as made me understand the difference between the right and the far-right, the left and the far-left, and how Conservatism is not strictly an identifier of hatred. Much of the time, the individual simply does not know any better.
    The far-right though? I would encourage you to punch any you meet square in the jaw. Then kiss a black friend, right in front of them, just to annoy them.
    I suppose I may as well drop the pretense and mention that, if you hadn’t already guessed, I am the author of this article and was deliberately omitting my name. You have unmasked me, That Guy. You cad, you!

  18. Dude, you really don’t get the point, do you?
    I don’t care about political parties and i am not from Britain either. English is not my native language. I am not Caucasian. I don’t like racists. I don’t like commies. I don’t like feminism. I don’t like “Social Justice Warriors”. I don’t care about a movie or TV show has a more diverse cast or not. If something is good, then it is. If not, i don’t give a s***.
    There is a path beyond left or right. I am just a human being with common sense and mental health.

    Why are you so afraid? What do you stand for?

  19. @R

    really cant argue with that.

    bang on, and well said.

  20. I can’t speak for the rest of the team (there are twelve of us on the core CaR team – each with different, complex and nuanced views on the wider world and its issues – plus we have various contributors such as the author of this piece), but I don’t ‘self-identify’ as either a ‘commie’ or an ‘SJW’.

    If other people want to label me something then I’d rather those than certain others, but I think from the content of many of our shows it is apparent that I am (proudly) left-leaning and liberal.

    I am also (painfully) aware that other views are available and that there are understandable reasons for that. I ran Ryan’s piece because I felt it was a good fit for our ethos here, but it is worth readers remembering not every contributing author’s opinion expressed in every blog piece we run conforms directly to what all of us podcasters thinks. That wouldn’t even be possible.

    Unsurprisingly this piece has already generated more comments than any other piece we have run in six years, but we published it because we thought it was worthwhile and well-written, not because it was clickbait. I realise no-one has accused us of this, but I thought it worth saying anyway.

  21. @R aka Ryan

    Good one Ryan 🙂 I really appreciate your comment. I know that not all conservative and traditional people are Nazis, but are drifting more and more towards strong aversion against anything they value not “pure”. And this is the root of it. Cheap propaganda by Internet trolls and the media.
    Left or right, i don’t care. Both of run their own scheme.

  22. Steve: “@R

    really cant argue with that.

    bang on, and well said.”

    And STEVE, stop licking his balls like a dog. Stand by the things you said.

  23. I must echo Leon’s sentiments here. I don’t speak for the entirety of the Cane and Rinse team with this article, and nor was I deliberately ‘baiting’ the right. I must also stress that I wasn’t attempting ‘clickbait’. Did I want to write something that would attract people, and was a prevalent and discussed phenomenon? Absolutely. It makes sense to discuss a strong cultural topic; but it also needed to be different, and that’s what I attempted here.

    My point was that Nazi sentimentality has no place in a civilized society, regardless of whatever side of the political spectrum you’re on. As Dave mentioned in the comments above, it’s frustrating that the phrase “alt-right” has connotations with otherwise tolerant, if right-leaning, members of society. I would say that if I could write the article again, I would replace the phrase “alt-right” with the correct term for these hateful troglodytes; Neo-Nazis. That way, it might have eliminated the disagreements about the political spectrum and merely concentrated on a gross and hateful subset of people.

    I must admit my frustration at the various accusations in these comments, and on occasion I might not have hidden those frustrations particularly well. But I do find it worrying that we continue to argue among ourselves when I believe, as a civilized society, we must unite against those who seek to divide us by our race and religion.

    I would encourage all here to discuss their political differences respectfully (and yes, I too am trying to follow this mantra going forward). If somebody knee-jerk accuses you of being an “SJW” or a “Nazi”, they’re rarely worth your debate, and please do try to remember that people who lean the other way from you are not an enemy, nor immediately hostile.
    I’m a libertarian centrist who frequently discusses politics with an old school friend – one who happens to be both a staunch Thatcherite and a Tory MP for my local area. He and I have nothing but disdain for each other’s political leanings, but its through discussion that we have come to discuss our differences respectfully and learn that neither of us are malicious, insidious people; if anything, we have developed a great respect for one another.

    I believe Cane and Rinse has a great community. Let’s keep it that way and understand that the vast majority of us are united against blanket hatred, regardless of our leanings.

    Peace x

  24. he was right; the alt-right need a good slap.

    you ought to have a good look at yourself mate, you’re politics are way out there and most reasonable people will tell you that.

  25. This is a wee bit wacky pal; your average wee guy down the boozer is not likely to come away this something like that.

    “He conserves the values of his ancestors and homeland. And for me, these values are based on imperialism, fascism and supremacy of the Caucasian race.”

    Gold.

  26. The most depressing thing about 2017 is that if someone states sexism or racism is bad people actually argue about it.
    If you find any of the behavior Ryan described in this article as acceptable whether on the right wing or the left wing the basement you dwell in touches depths beyond even the mines of Stardew valley and I hope you choke on a stale dorito while you’re trolling women or being a racist rattata of a human.