The game has several levels and three main areas that you enter to perform your deeds. These are the Fox News building, the Americans for Prosperity organization building, and the trailer park (where you find Sarah and Michele). Every time you go from one level to another you are presented with a little pearl of liberal wisdom regarding Tea Party shenanigans. If the zombies prevail it is stated that you died because "you didn't have health insurance" and that that is too bad because "there is no such thing as God and death is for eternity". If you win you are treated to a final graphic where a donkey projectile-defecates on the Tea Party crowd.
Needless to say the conservative media went wild claiming this game proves that liberals are not the kind tolerant people that they pretend to be. While I think this is an unfair generalization, I can see their point. This game is way more extreme than Sarah Palin placing the famous crosshair over Representative Gabrielle Gilford's district which caused all that furor. In any case, a campaign to call Advergaming's clients resulted in the game being taken off-line. However, if you want to catch a glimpse of what it looked like, you can check out this video.
Now let me get to my point. It is easy to dismiss this game as the work of a nutter. Even within the rank and file of liberals you will find extremists, and a few of them are bound to have programming skills. But there is something that worries me.
Over the years I have played several violent video games (Duke Nukem, Starcraft, Halo, etc.) and they all involved killing aliens or some total stranger not identifiable with any group in our current society. But in this game many of the zombies bear the likenesses of real people and the language is also unabashedly vitriolic (e.g. stupid white trash birther rednecks, lobbyist pigs, Fox New Anchor Barbies). Teapartyzombiesmustdie makes me think of one of the most infamous games ever made, Juden Raus! (Jews Out!).
Juden Raus was a board game that was made in Nazi Germany. The object of the game was to deprive Jews of their property and make them leave the city. The game was not created by the Nazis and, ironically, it was not viewed favorably by them as they thought that it trivialized their policies toward Jews. However, the game did resonate with the anti-Semitic beliefs of a significant portion of the German population.
By evoking Juden Raus I do not intend to draw parallels between the political situation of Nazi Germany and that of the United States, or the situation of the German Jews and the Tea Party people (they are obviously very different). My point is rather that the zeitgeist that had been created in Nazi Germany made someone feel that it was perfectly fine to make this board game and put it out into society envisioning that it would be played by both children and adults. This is my fear regarding Teapartyzombiesmustdie. What made the head of StarvingEyes Advergaming Productions, Jason Oda, think that it was OK to create this game (which he described as a "personal project") and place it online?
Could it be that the level of polarization, meanness, and hatred in U.S. society has reached such a high mark that some people feel it is acceptable to cross lines they would have never dared to cross before? I take solace in the fact that the reaction to the game was swift and that it was taken off-line. This proves that there are mechanisms in this country that allow groups that feel discriminated to fight back. My concern is what happens when individuals on one side of the political divide get more and more frustrated with the other side, which they regard as a threat, but also consider to be brain dead and not worthy of even trying to reason with? What other lines will be crossed in the future? Is this the spirit of our times?
What do you think?
I want to thank Laura for giving me the opportunity to guest blog at her website. I am Phantomimic, the peculiar eclectic writer. Please visit me at http://phantomimic.weebly.com or follow me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/Phantomimic). Thank you!