In the same way that violent interaction is an easy way to build a written or filmed narrative, it is also a time-honored tradition in video games, a medium fundamentally well-suited for creating objects that come into contact with each other. If either of those objects is a human, violence is the outcome, and so the recent spate of real-world Nazi punches have been riffed on in several video games. First came Pepe Punch-Out!!, which allowed players to knock the alt-right icon about; then came Punch-A-Nazi!!, which had much more detailed graphical recreations of the alt-right white supremacists Milo Yiannopoulos and Richard Spencer, as well as the proto-Nazi himself, Adolph Hitler. Wavves even made his own Nazi-punching game.
As Paste has pointed out, punching Nazis in video games is an as old as the medium itself. But ever since Richard Spencer first got that flying sucker-punch on the afternoon of Donald Trump’s inauguration, people throughout the political spectrum have been careful to caution against taking too much delight in the face of violence. Ramsay Nasser’s Dialogue 3-D satirizes this dialogue, modding the Nazi-killing video game classic Wolfenstein 3-D with a series of rhetorical questions every time you try to shoot a Nazi.
“Doesn’t this make you the real Nazi?” it asks, or “Is Nazism different from other political positions?” Invariably you end up dead while wrestling with the dialogue boxes. The point is not subtle: the sword is mightier than the pen—or, in this case, the keyboard.
Another new game takes as inspiration the famous picture of a 38-year-old woman attacking a Neo-Nazi with her handbag. Also developed by Nasser, in collaboration with the game designer Jane Friedhoff, Handväska! works more like bowling, with the player running up and smashing a bunch of blockheaded Nazis with a bag. It doesn’t have time for moral questions, favoring instead big physics-based punchlines.
You can play Dialogue 3-D for free online, and you can pay what you want for Handväska! Neither will necessarily make you feel better about the fact that Richard Spencer exists, or that an apocalyptic white supremacist is the most powerful man in the Trump White House. or the fact that these facts have turned you into a person actively seeking comfort in GIFs of a person being punched. But if recent history—or the full history of games is anything to go on—you won’t have to wait long for more opportunities to punch digital Nazis.
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