"No One is Ever Ready for Something Like This." – On the Dialectic of the Holocaust in First-Person Shooters as Exemplified by Wolfenstein: The New Order

Pfister, Eugen; Zimmermann, Felix (2021). "No One is Ever Ready for Something Like This." – On the Dialectic of the Holocaust in First-Person Shooters as Exemplified by Wolfenstein: The New Order International Public History, 4(1), pp. 35-46. Walter de Gruyter GmbH 10.1515/iph-2021-2020

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For almost three decades, the depiction of the Holocaust was considered taboo in digital games. While World War II became a popular historicizing setting for digital games, the crimes of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust in particular remained conspicuously absent. In this article we show that discussions about the fundamental suitability of specific media or media forms for dealing responsibly with the memory of the Nazi regime’s crimes have already taken place several times and that similar arguments can now be applied to the digital game. With this in mind, we pursue the question of whether only so-called serious games are suitable for this purpose, or whether, on the contrary, mainstream blockbuster games – here specifically the first-person shooter Wolfenstein: The New Order – can find ways to maintain the memory of the Holocaust without trivializing it. We approach this question by analyzing chapter 8 of Wolfenstein: The New Order, in which protagonist William “B.J.” Blazkowicz allows himself to be deported to a Nazi concentration camp. We discuss this camp scene dialectically, on the one hand, as an encouragement to rethink the first-person shooter and, on the other hand, as a reproduction of a superficial iconography of the Holocaust.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

Bern Academy of the Arts
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute of Design Research
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute of Design Research > Design and Rhetoric

Name:

Pfister, Eugen0000-0003-3422-4697 and
Zimmermann, Felix

Publisher:

Walter de Gruyter GmbH

Language:

English

Submitter:

Marie-Eve von Allmen

Date Deposited:

24 Nov 2021 09:38

Last Modified:

24 Nov 2021 09:38

Publisher DOI:

10.1515/iph-2021-2020

Uncontrolled Keywords:

digital games; contemporary history; Holocaust studies; popular culture studies; Wolfenstein: The New Order

URI:

https://arbor.bfh.ch/id/eprint/15733

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