Ethnic Cleansing (video game)
|Release||January 21, 2002|
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Ethnic Cleansing is a first-person shooter video game for Microsoft Windows computers, created by the American white supremacist organization National Alliance (and published by its record label Resistance Records) on January 21, 2002. As part of a "Race War", the player controls a neo-Nazi skinhead or a Klansman and is tasked with killing stereotypical African, Mexican, and Jewish enemies, ending with then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Using the Genesis3D engine, the National Alliance created the game to be provocative and to support their white supremacist message. The game has been controversial, with the Anti-Defamation League taking particular issue; it has been ranked several times as one of the most controversial games ever created. It was planned to be followed by a long line of sequels, but only one, titled White Law, was ever released.
Ethnic Cleansing is a short-length first-person shooter set in a single level. The player can select a neo-Nazi, a Skinhead, or a Klansman to control. They run through a ghetto that has been compared to New York City and shoot African-Americans and Mexicans, before descending into a subway system to kill Jews. Finally, the player reaches the "Yiddish Control Center", where a fictionalized version of Ariel Sharon, then Prime Minister of Israel, is directing plans for world domination. He carries a rocket launcher; the player must kill him to complete the game. The head-up display contains a map of nearby enemies and a counter of remaining ammunition.
The game's soundtrack consists of white power rock music. The game's art assets and sound effects feature racial stereotypes: when shot, black enemies make monkey noises and Jewish enemies are dressed as Haredim rabbis and shout "oy vey!". Mexican characters shout "I need to take a siesta now". In addition, black enemies are drawn to resemble apes and some wear T-shirts with the lettering "NIGZ", while Mexican enemies wear sombreros.
Development and release
—Tagline from Resistance's website
Ethnic Cleansing was developed by members of the National Alliance, an American white supremacist organization, and published by Resistance Records, its subsidiary record label that specializes in white power music. It was developed for Microsoft Windows personal computers using Eclipse Entertainment's open-source game engine Genesis3D along with the Reality Factory development kit. The source code was not substantially changed from the original. Instead, the developers simply plugged in images and sounds that they had created in freely available editing programs.
Shaun Walker, the chairman of the National Alliance, explained to the United Press that the intent was to produce a racially provocative video game and promote racial segregation. National Alliance founder William Luther Pierce, who also appears in the game to discuss an "upcoming white revolution", considered video games to be simply another medium to promote his organization's messages. Resistance released the game on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 21) of 2002. It was priced at USD $14.88, a reference to the white supremacist Fourteen Words slogan and the neo-Nazi numerical code "88" (which stands for "HH" or "Heil Hitler").
Reception and controversy
While it received little to no attention from the mainstream media, the game was immediately controversial among Americans on both sides of the political spectrum. The Anti-Defamation League, an anti-racist organization that especially covers anti-Semitism, publicized the existence of the game and unsuccessfully lobbied the developers of Genesis3D to change their licensing conditions to prohibit the use of the engine to develop racist games. They lobbied the Interactive Digital Software Association to encourage its members to adopt such policies.
The game's reception from critics was extremely negative. David Leonard of PopMatters described the game's graphics and "playability". While not approving of the game's message, he argued that it was only the latest in a long line of racist video games that included the likes of Grand Theft Auto III, NFL Street, and Freedom Fighters. In January 2003, Stuff named Ethnic Cleansing the 40th most controversial video game of all time. The staff opined that only "very stupid children" would be susceptible to its message and that it would make players feel like "small-minded assholes". Complex and UGO ranked it as the single most racist video game in history. UGO staff writer K. Thor Jensen called it "profoundly stupid".
Pierce estimated that "a couple thousand" copies of the game had been sold within a month of its release and that 90 percent of consumers were white teenage boys.
The National Alliance and Resistance Records released a similar game, White Law, in June 2003. It starred an Irish-American police officer taking up arms to protect his territory from racial minorities. It has been compared to Freedom Fighters, though it was based on the events of Pierce's novel The Turner Diaries. The National Alliance intended to create an entire line of racist games, but no more have surfaced.
- Leonard, David (February 26, 2004). "White Supremacist Games or Just More of the Same?". PopMatters. Archived from the original on December 8, 2009. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- Scheeres, Julia (February 20, 2002). "Games Elevate Hate to Next Level". Wired. Archived from the original on 2014-09-29. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- Jensen, K. Thor (November 30, 2010). "The 11 Most Racist Video Games". UGO. Archived from the original on January 28, 2012. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- Gibson, Ellie (July 18, 2005). "Racists launch PC game". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 2014-10-26. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- National Alliance (January 21, 2002). Ethnic Cleansing. Resistance Records.
- "50 Most Controversial Games Ever". Stuff: 75. January 2003. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2017-09-09.
- "ETHNIC CLEANSING ". Resistance.com. Archived from the original on November 15, 2005. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- "476 F. 3d 719 - United States v. Ross". OpenJurist. February 8, 2007. Archived from the original on 2014-08-13. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- "Racist Groups Use Computer Gaming to Promote Hate" (PDF). Anti-Defamation League. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-11-05. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- Hester, Larry (June 20, 2012). "The 10 Most Racist Video Games". Complex. Archived from the original on 2014-10-21. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- "List of Prohibited Games". Twitch.tv Help. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
Prohibited Games without an Adults-Only rating [...] Ethnic Cleansing
- "ADL Report: Growing Proliferation of Racist Video Games Target Youth on The Internet". Anti-Defamation League. February 19, 2002. Archived from the original on August 17, 2014. Retrieved October 21, 2014.