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Ecumene Aztec refers to discussions about video game developer Giantscraft's announcement of their game Ecumene Aztec, slated to be released in 2025. After IGN's official Twitter posted a trailer of the game, characterizing it as an RPG third-person player where one can play as "an Aztec" withstanding "the assault of Spanish conquistadors," various internet users began to debate the ethics of the Spanish colonization of the Americas. Online reactions to the game prompted Giantscraft to allow users to support the Conquistadors in the game, leading to renewed debate.
On May 30th, 2023, IGN published an article announcing video game developer Giantscraft's game Ecumene Aztec, slated to be released in 2025. On May 30th, IGN's official Twitter shared a trailer for the game, gathering over 45 million views, 800 quote tweets, and 36,000 likes in a week (seen below)
Play as an Aztec trying to withstand the assault of Spanish conquistadors in the first-person survival action-RPG Ecumene Aztec, launching in 2025. pic.twitter.com/FdAW5RoyFd
— IGN (@IGN) May 31, 2023
In the following days, the announcement tweet elicited various responses from Twitter users, notably some who considered the Spanish invaders of South America to be morally righteous imperialists due to the indigenous Aztec empire's practice of conducting human sacrifices.
For example, on May 31st, 2023, Twitter user @bossmuntime posted a GigaChad meme depicting the Spanish Conquistadors stopping human sacrifices, gathering over 20,000 likes and 800 retweets in a week (seen below, left). Also that day, other users asked to play as the "good guy" conquistadors and received pushback on that characterization from some as a viral debate emerged (seen below, right).
On May 31st, Twitter user @ShadowPowerup posted a tweet joking about Aztes being "problematic" unlike the Spartans or Vikings. the post gathered over 35,000 likes in five days (seen below, left). On June 1st, 2023, Twitter user @CogitoEdu quote tweeted the original post by IGN noting the historic inaccuracies in the game, saying, "Game is called Aztec. The characters look Maya. They're in the Yucatan jungle far away from highlands Tenochtitlan was in. The cities look like ruins from 2023 and the Spanish are wearing heavy armour in the jungle. " The post gathered over 100,000 likes in four days (seen below, right).
On May 31st, Twitter user @ComradeStu posted a speech bubbling meme featuring Hitler saying, "I can I play as the Spanish? I want to stop human sacrifices." The post gathered over 9,000 likes in five days (seen below, left). Also on May 31st, Twitter user @TheAngelKing47 posted a meme about the historic conflict, gathering over 20,000 likes in five days (seen below, right).
On June 3rd, Giantscraft updated the description for Ecumene Aztec to add that the game will also allow for one to play as a supporter of the Conquistadors against the "caste of sacrifice-making priests."
Also that day Twitter user @_rawrell posted a tweet acknowledging the update and saying "We did it, Twitter," gathering over 5,000 likes in two days (seen below, left). On June 4th, Twitter user @BadEmpanada shared an image from the game's Steam page, noting that they call the Spanish "liberators," gathering over 18,000 likes in a day (seen below, right).
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