Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

For Super Earth

Illustration by Tali Hastings

Helldivers 2 has been taking the gaming community by storm as of late. Despite the fact that the game released less than a month ago on Feb. 8, the game sold roughly 3 million copies (as of Feb. 26). That averages to roughly 1 million copies sold per week, with my friends and I being included in those numbers. This is an unprecedented amount of sales for a game that had generated little hype before its release. This begs the question: Why has the game become so popular?

To make a long answer short: propaganda. The game is centered around this militant group called the “Helldivers.” You are the front line in the defense of “Super Earth,” standing for the survival of the human race. You fight and embody “managed democracy” in this galaxy and you must fight off the Terminids, more fondly known as “fascist bugs,” and the Automatons, the socialist murder robots. The gaming community has grasped onto defending Super Earth, and it is an incredible case study to show just how well propaganda can work.

Each day, I hear more and more people calling upon other gaming fans to join the battle for democracy and expel the fascist and socialist enemies encroaching on Super Earth. The community has grasped onto these propaganda pieces and are having fun with the silly rendition of real life military propaganda, but a lot of people are missing the fact that the ironic spin on American imperialism is actually not too unrealistic.

If you haven’t seen any clips of the game’s cinematics that show the propaganda, I highly recommend you look at it. It can be deeply unsettling if you take it for what it is and look past the fact that it’s for a video game. It has many elements of othering and hatred that we see plenty of in today’s society. Whether we look at the War on Terror and the way that America constructed all Middle Easterners as terrorists or we look at our own ignorance of the devastating wars that are taking place across our world, we can see a lot of similarities in the way that the game distances “Super Earth” from the threats that they face.

By creating a reason for hatred to exist, the game allows players to indiscriminately fight off massive waves of each of these beings with no regard for them, simply seeing them as another obstacle between them and reaching their goal of managed democracy across the galaxy. It reminds me a lot of the Black Mirror episode “Men Against Fire” (Season 3 Episode 5). In this episode, soldiers have implants that change the way they see their enemies, making them see human beings like themselves as faceless, grotesque creatures. By altering the way the soldiers see those that they are meant to exterminate, it makes their job infinitely easier as they can just become indiscriminate killing machines with no emotional responses to the slaughter that they are engaging in.

I’m worried that the reality that exists in this game is lost on a lot of players. They simply ignore the parts of the game that hit maybe a little too close to home for them to be fully comfortable and laugh it off as a goofy play on the way our military USED to look during the draft era, but you would be doing the game a major disservice to simply ignore the uncomfortable reality that it is putting in your face. You should be able to take a well crafted piece like this game and use it to improve your understanding of the world around you. Even my friend currently enlisted in the military plays this game and laughs at the voice lines of “How about a cup of liber-tea” or “Have a taste of democracy” as you slaughter your enemies. 

This game is, ultimately, a god-send for a generation that derives its values from the content it consumes. Helldivers 2 has all but slapped consumers in the face with issues that are all too often dismissed due to our own ignorance. That is, of course, only if you take the time to critically engage with the game, which takes the real world as its inspiration. To quote Fallout 4, “If my time in the army has taught me anything: it’s that war … war never changes.”

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    Alana ThompsonMar 7, 2024 at 5:23 pm

    I too agree the Holocaust is on the horizon in the states, Donald Trump will commence total Jewish destruction if he elected. I’m a Israeli immigrant and I fear for my life because of the brazy parreles between helldivers 2 and facism. This entire situation reminds me of home and how the facist Hamas is attempting to take over Israel. Thanks you for this.