The kitschy triumph of bad taste gaming, “Castle Wolfenstein”, debuted on Apple II 33 years ago (in case you weren’t already feeling old today). The smash hit spawned a series of jaw-droppingly tacky sequels, remakes and spin-offs, including “Spear of Destiny” where the player tries to locate the weapon that pierced the chest of Jesus Christ to prevent Hitler from leveraging its supernatural power. Because it is widely known that Christian relics are easily converted into weapons of mass destruction.
There have been no German releases of any kind for a fairly good reason: The use of Nazi imagery in Germany can result in prison sentences of up to three years.
The PC versions of the game have been traditionally geo-locked to prevent Germans from playing the titles. But Bethesda’s head of PR, Peter Hines, has now confirmed that the latest iteration called “The New Order” will be purged of all Nazi references and released in Germany.
With subtle British snark, BBC notes that Mr. Hines offered this piece of insight about German version of the game: “They have a thing about Nazis there.”
The evil military force in the game will be renamed “The Regime.”
Wolfenstein 3D from 1992 played an important role in the history of video games, as it helped popularize the currently dominant genre of first-person shooters. The series has generated plenty of controversy over the past three decades, some of it stemming from the use of Hitler equipped with a mechanical suit and chain guns as a boss character.
Whether this trivializes the suffering of his victims or cleverly undercuts neo-Nazi attempts to project a dignified image of Hitler is open for debate. The use of phrases such as “Die, Allied Schweinhund!” have also been criticized for perpetuating negative and clichéd stereotypes of Germans.