Stop Normalizing Nazis – Socially Conscious Game Design – Extra Credits

Stop Normalizing Nazis – Socially Conscious Game Design – Extra Credits


There you are, playing the PvP in your World War II shooter, and all of the sudden, you’re a Nazi. You didn’t ask for this. You didn’t choose this. Yet, there it is, and it’s treated no differently than playing a British soldier. This is bad on so many levels. No one should ever have a random chance of fighting for the Nazis, and we should never express that there’s no meaningful difference between Nazis and Allied soldiers, or that they’re functionally interchangeable. And before anyone equivocates and says not all “German soldiers in WWII were Nazis,” if they were wearing the swastika, and are functioning as an arm of the Nazi government, then unless the game goes out of its way to tell you specifically, that your particular character is not a Nazi? Then they’re a Nazi. In that multiplayer shooter, when it switched you to the German side, did it go out of its way to tell you that the person you’re playing was pressed into service under threat of their life? Yeah, that’s a big old “Nope.” Oh, and on a similar note, let’s please stop forcing people to play as terrorists, as well. There you are, playing your modern shooter, and all of a sudden you’re a terrorist. You didn’t ask for this. You didn’t choose this. And yet, second verse same as the first, there it is. I mean that’s literally the name of your side in the game. We can do better than this. Even if you put aside all of the people who have had traumatic experiences with these groups, who have lost loved ones to terrorists, or who have had generations of their families wiped out by Nazis, no one should have to put on the costume of an ideology they find abhorrent, without actually opting into it in your game. And by making people do so, we get them to stop thinking about it, to stop thinking of the meaning behind these things. We normalize them. We make them just window dressing for entertainment. Those uniforms, those symbols, become things that no longer inherently revolt us. They reduce our visceral reaction to seeing the embodiment of these ideologies. Now, does this make us totally ignore the history that comes with them? No, but for some people it moves them from the territory of “revolting” to just “edgy.” It makes scrawling a swastika on something, changed from “unthinkable” to just “dangerous.” It means you might not take iron crosses all over a website as a warning sign that you should immediately leave. And if you don’t leave, you might start reading and buying into hateful ideas there. It seems like such a small and simple thing, but it’s things like this that erode our safeguards against dangers we’ve sacrificed so much to fight. By the time you’ve played a hundred hours of being a Nazi, their voice stabs become memes and in-jokes with your friends. By the thousandth time you’ve respawned as a terrorist, you’re either celebrating them or making fun of them, neither of which helps the global crisis we have that takes thousands of lives every year. So what do we do? That’s easy. Don’t make them morally equivalent. Don’t make there be no in-game moral difference between your Nazis and your Allies, between your terrorists and your counter-terrorist squads. Frame PvP as a training exercise, or simply take one of your non-odious sides and recolor them so that it’s red vs blue, rather than Axis versus Allies. A good example of a game that does this is RainbowSix Siege. All of your bomb defusion, and hostage rescue multiplayer, with no normalizing terrorists. In fact, by having all of the characters as counter-terrorists, training for a possible threat, it highlights how real and present of a threat that is. And if you decide that you need to have both sides be playable, don’t make them interchangeable. Don’t have players randomly spawn in as one or the other. Allow players to choose which side they’re on. Now, of course, this has all sorts of in-game problems, such as creating shorter wait times for fascists, but you know what? Those wait times could be artificially extended, if it meant players had an active choice in what teams they would represent, if you’re saying we need people playing Nazis in our games. And if you’re going to say, “but we need it for historical reasons,” then your game better actually be historical. You can’t really just hide behind the fact you called your desert map El-Alamein and say “but its historical!” If that were the case, you need your PvP to at least represent real historical events, and be a realistic take on those battles. Once you make both sides balanced, it’s also no longer historical, and you can’t really say that you need Nazis anymore for historical accuracy. Oh, and once you let players get cool weapons that weren’t actually at that particular battleground? It’s also no longer historically accurate, and you can’t declare that your game will suffer if you don’t put players in the jackboots of the Third Reich. And once your map is something carefully designed to have good gameplay, by a team in a room in San Francisco or LA, and it’s not a faithful reconstruction of the actual places the historical events occurred in, you can no longer say, “We need to have players take up arms in service of terror or hate.” And look, we’re not saying we can’t have games about WWII or about terrorism. We’re not even saying we shouldn’t make games where you play as a Nazi or a terrorist, but what we are saying, is that the fact that you’re playing as a Nazi or a terrorist in a game has to mean something, and it can’t just be a skin. It can’t be something that a game randomly drops you into. And really, if we are saying anything in this episode, it’s this: games can do better. And in this particular case, it’s not even that hard to do better, and it’s no more costly to do better! All it requires is that we in the game industry be cognizant of the world around us, and what these symbols were drawing on mean. That we think as we’re building, not just about the game we’re working on, but about the world as a whole. If we can do that, we can take a big step forward for the industry. We can stop helping to normalize Nazis.

63 thoughts on “Stop Normalizing Nazis – Socially Conscious Game Design – Extra Credits

  • July 3, 2019 at 12:06 am
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    EDIT: Hey folks, so this one seems to have struck a nerve. We encourage discussion about the topic, and there is some fair criticism of the video out there. However, I wanted to address some of the comments that seemed to have misunderstood some aspects of the video.

    1) We never said that playing as a Nazi turns you into a Nazi. That’s not how that works. That’s not how any of this works. However, there is plenty of research about how art & media can shift people’s perspectives. This is not a good or bad thing, this is just a natural effect of culture. Please look up the Overton Window or heck, you can watch our video on Propaganda Games over here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UP4_bMhZ4gA

    So no. Playing a nazi doesn’t magically transform you into a nazi. No one is saying that.

    2) We never said that games should NEVER let you play as Nazis or terrorists for that matter. If you need the exact time stamp, it’s at 4:47 . There’s a lot of potential for some really interesting or impactful games that put the players in the boots of people or in control of systems that have done incredible harm. But it can’t be done thoughtlessly or just as a skin on top of mechanics, devoid of context.

    3) For those saying that it’s just a game and we shouldn’t think too hard about it, I feel like perhaps it might be important to introduce ourselves. Hi, we’re Extra Credits! Our tag line, for a very long time, was “Because Games Matter” It’s something we fundamentally believe and if you don’t, that’s okay! But then our content might not be for you, cause thinking hard about games is kind of our schtick.

    4) Our writing staff is the same, and we’ve always talked about politics in games and our other videos. If this comes as a surprise to you, or you think there’s been a large shift in our thinking, I’d invite you to take a look at some of our older episodes. We live in a time where neo-nazis exist and they've seemed to have increasingly found a home in gaming communities. This isn’t something we can turn a blind eye anymore, and it’s important to consider what we as game designers can do to try and make things better.

    As said, there have been some very valid critiques of the video that we greatly appreciate. Most important to us is to start talking about these topics and to have conversations about design. For those of you who have kept civil in the comments, thank you. For those who need a reminder, our CoC can be found here: https://becausegamesmatter.com/extra-credits-community-code-of-conduct

    – A

    Original Comment:
    "Oh wow, I want to watch more videos about politics in games from Extra Credits's literal 9-year history of talking about politics in games!" Well then have we got the perfect playlist for you! Check out just a delightful handful of the videos we've made before about this type of subject: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhyKYa0YJ_5AAbhb9A_CxOEGsdORotH48

    Reply
  • November 22, 2019 at 9:08 pm
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    It's funny how there mre disliked then likes

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  • November 22, 2019 at 10:45 pm
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    Tbh he does have a fair point

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  • November 22, 2019 at 10:56 pm
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    I am leaving until you stop pushing politics on video games so you just lost a subscriber

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  • November 23, 2019 at 10:06 am
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    You Just mad cuz u suck in game

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  • November 23, 2019 at 12:25 pm
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    Hello, EC sweetie. You're doing great triggering the Stormfront.

    Reply
  • November 23, 2019 at 4:07 pm
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    man I'm just trying to play a video game but if I can't be a terrorist or not see or British man this is going to be fucking hard thank God I have Xbox 360

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  • November 24, 2019 at 1:37 am
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    Ok Boomer

    Reply
  • November 24, 2019 at 3:14 am
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    You dun goofed

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  • November 24, 2019 at 3:22 am
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    This is why these games are rated M

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  • November 24, 2019 at 8:31 am
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    2:40 yeah gAmERs always say that

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  • November 24, 2019 at 1:01 pm
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    Lmao get ratio’d libcucks

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  • November 24, 2019 at 3:09 pm
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    This is probably the worst video extra credits ever created.

    Reply
  • November 24, 2019 at 3:21 pm
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    Making fun of terrorists is the best way to fight them

    Reply
  • November 24, 2019 at 4:12 pm
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    Why is this video so disliked?

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  • November 24, 2019 at 6:32 pm
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    17K likes
    250K dislikes

    I love democracy

    Reply
  • November 24, 2019 at 10:28 pm
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    There you are,playing halo then all of a sudden

    YOUR ON DEATH ROW FOR SLAUGHTERING TONS OF GRUNT KIDS

    Reply
  • November 25, 2019 at 12:04 am
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    Maybe we shouldn't be able to play as British soldiers then because of the atrocities they committed before

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  • November 25, 2019 at 1:06 am
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    A little late for Deadpan

    Reply
  • November 25, 2019 at 4:15 am
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    Did you think when you made this video….

    Reply
  • November 25, 2019 at 4:16 am
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    Well that's 5 minutes and 56 seconds I will never get back in my life

    Reply
  • November 25, 2019 at 5:04 am
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    This is impressively unconvincing. Still waiting for you guys to demand that Romans And Galls not be depicted as morally equal, or is there nobody who will pay you to tank your channel to say that?

    Reply
  • November 25, 2019 at 4:22 pm
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    "Hey folks, so this one seems to have struck a nerve."

    You mean when you thought this video was a good idea?…

    Reply
  • November 25, 2019 at 11:24 pm
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    Wtf

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  • November 25, 2019 at 11:35 pm
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    How to turn your respected channel into a meme in less than 6 minutes.

    Reply
  • November 26, 2019 at 2:54 am
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    Who cares it’s a video game, go back to making history videos

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  • November 26, 2019 at 4:15 am
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    Y O U R A N A Z I

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  • November 26, 2019 at 4:56 am
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    your an idiot.

    Reply
  • November 26, 2019 at 3:54 pm
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    HOLY THE DISLIKE RATIO

    Reply
  • November 26, 2019 at 6:40 pm
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    i could not stop laughing. this is some funny stuff

    Reply
  • November 27, 2019 at 1:18 am
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    dude the iron cross is not racist in fact its still a symbol in the germen military

    Reply
  • November 27, 2019 at 1:56 pm
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    This video proves that wrong side won WWII

    Reply
  • November 27, 2019 at 3:18 pm
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    Hopefully this episode will be used as a reminder to extra credits to not project politics into mindless video games

    Reply
  • November 27, 2019 at 4:49 pm
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    There u are playing lisa the painful and all of a sudden all the women on earth disappeared

    Reply
  • November 27, 2019 at 10:36 pm
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    "…by the thousandth time you've re-spawned as a terrorist you're either celebrating them…", just stop. Jesus. No one is celebrating terrorists because they randomly get placed on a team while playing COD.

    Reply
  • November 27, 2019 at 11:10 pm
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    Playing World of Tanks:

    Guess I'm a tank now! I'm responsible for the death of millions!

    Reply
  • November 28, 2019 at 1:39 am
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    What? This is like saying you can't say something bad about someone because its the internet. Its a game. Yes they are symbols but do you really want to forget these symbols? The logic behind is video is so inane and dumb that I can't even.

    Reply
  • November 28, 2019 at 1:54 am
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    What a joke

    Reply
  • November 28, 2019 at 4:11 am
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    Look at this dude ohh no no no look at the top of his head look at his shoes

    Reply
  • November 28, 2019 at 4:14 am
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    They be like the Germans were conscripted all people that actually understand WW2 Russia wipes out a lot of its population through forced conscription

    Reply
  • November 28, 2019 at 8:38 am
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    "But i don't wanna play the indian!" Fine we'll just be blue and red ! this is boring and uncreative

    Reply
  • November 28, 2019 at 12:10 pm
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    sTRuCk a NeRVe

    Reply
  • November 28, 2019 at 1:39 pm
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    The down votes on this video are amusing

    Reply
  • November 28, 2019 at 2:43 pm
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    BREAKING NEWS: Being a soldier for a country is like being a soldier from another country

    Reply
  • November 28, 2019 at 2:55 pm
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    Everybody clown on extra credits for being idoits

    Reply
  • November 28, 2019 at 6:20 pm
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    This is basically speaking from a person who doesnt understand how gaming works.

    Reply
  • November 28, 2019 at 6:26 pm
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    I was wondering how well this aged. I was not disappointed.

    Reply
  • November 28, 2019 at 9:33 pm
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    How stupid can one channel be?

    Reply
  • November 29, 2019 at 10:36 am
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    Ok Boomer

    Reply
  • November 29, 2019 at 1:42 pm
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    eye lmao

    Reply
  • November 29, 2019 at 4:59 pm
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    Me: Plays I am Bread
    Me:
    Oh, guess I'm a slab of wheat-flour dough that has been cultured with a good amount of yeast to rise and bake into a simple and reliable food source.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2019 at 7:26 pm
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    You guys are way too educated and way too inexperienced

    Reply
  • November 29, 2019 at 8:11 pm
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    Hahahahaha this is stupid

    Reply
  • November 29, 2019 at 10:54 pm
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    So you are telling me if I were to play as a Vietcong Guerilla in Unit 1968 in roblox, I am Communist in real life?

    Reply
  • November 30, 2019 at 12:03 am
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    This video was just to suck the balls of Rainbow Six siege

    Reply
  • November 30, 2019 at 2:13 am
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    Why do idiots insist on posting videos to Youtube?

    Reply
  • November 30, 2019 at 6:42 am
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    btw you cant actually play as "terrorist" in siege so take that little skribble bit of siege out

    Reply
  • November 30, 2019 at 8:40 am
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    This concept in a WW2 Battlefield game
    LT: “Uh commander, why are we using live HE shells in an Urban Combat Training mission?”
    Commander: “I don’t want to damage a random civilian’s home!”

    Reply
  • November 30, 2019 at 1:58 pm
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    Sure, just cause I “slaughter villages” “take no prisoners” and “break the Geneva convention on a daily basis” makes me a "Khorne Berzerker" but if I say, do take a couple prisoners I’m a "servant of the corpse emperor"

    Reply
  • November 30, 2019 at 2:53 pm
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    i never gonna se this channel with the same eyes

    Reply
  • November 30, 2019 at 2:55 pm
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    you disgust me

    Reply
  • November 30, 2019 at 4:07 pm
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    You sound like a bunch of Karens

    Reply
  • November 30, 2019 at 8:20 pm
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    GET OUT!

    Reply
  • November 30, 2019 at 8:55 pm
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    Heard about this video from Optimus.
    Personally, I think EVERYONE should educate themselves from both perspectives. We've been chalked up to believe USA won WW2 when in reality we barely did anything.

    Safe to say the Russians won the war. We are nothing but a Sack of Social Degenz, like this channel for example. Perhaps you guys can find more relevant problems to dissect. Games like Fortnite and PUBG, dissect those. Teach kids the idea that games are just games, not important to life going ons.

    Reply

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