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Wolfenstein is a video game franchise originally created by Muse Software. In the game the player assumes the role of B.J. Blazkowicz, a WWII Green Beret Infiltrator who fights against Nazi Powers.
Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein
The first two titles of the franchise, Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, were released on 1981 and 1984, respectively, by Muse Software to show off their new sound engine called "The Voice." The titles are a stealth-based action-adventure shooter set in WWII. Both games garnered positive reviews at the time for it's innovative AI, sound design and gameplay. It is considered the first ever game to feature World War II as a setting.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
On November 19th, 2001, the series was rebooted with the release of the title Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Critics praised the game for its inclusion and use of multiplayer gameplay.
The third game in the series, simply called Wolfenstein, is the sequel to Return to castle Wolfenstein. It was created by Raven Software with additional work done by: id software, Pi Studios and Endrant Studios.
Released in August 2009, the game follows B.J. Blazkowicz trying to stop the nazis from accessing an alternate reality called "Black Sun" in the fictional German town of "Isenstadt." Fans and critics of the series remarked upon the game's design, which many took issue with, and consider the game to be something of a "black sheep." The game is not available anymore due to licensing issues with Activision, who were at the time the owner of the Wolfenstein IP.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
On May 20th, 2014, Wolfenstein: The New Order was released, acting as a soft reboot for the series. It assumes an alternative history theme, taking place in 1960 in a dystopian Berlin where the Nazis won WWII and dominated the world.
A standalone expansion pack has been released on May 5th, 2015 entitled Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. The game is a remake of Return to Castle Wolfenstein and a prequel to The New Order.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
On June 11th, 2017, during Bethesda's E3 presentation, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was announced for an October 2017 release. The first trailer for the game was also released. When published to YouTube that day, it received more than 2.1 million views in three months.
The Wolfenstein franchise always received a mixed ammount of positive and negative criticism for the inclusion of Nazi references, iconography and subject matter.
Preceding and acting as a direct inspiration for the Doom series, Wolfenstein is often considered to be the "Godfather of First Person Shooters", for estabilishing the genre and popularizing it in the 90s.
Critics panned the franchise for using Nazi reference, such as the Nazi Party symbol, Hitler portraits and Swastikas as the main artistic theme.
Make America Nazi-Free Again
On October 5th, 2017, the official Wolfenstein Twitter account posted a video teaser for the game Wolfenstein II: The New Order, featuring Nazi soldiers marching with the text overlay "Not My America." The tweet was captioned "Make America Nazi-Free Again. #NoMoreNazis #Wolf2" referencing the campaign slogan for President Donald Trump's presidential election, "Make America Great Again.". Within four days, the Tweet (shown below) received more than 1,500 comments, 15,000 retweets and 40,000 likes.
— Wolfenstein (@wolfenstein) October 5, 2017
Shortly after the video published, numerous Twitter users criticized the video's use of violence against Nazis, the inferred support of "leftists" causes and politicizing video games (examples below).
The backlash to the game caused confusion for some gamers, commentators and Twitter users. As Wolfenstein has always been about fighting Nazis, others argued that this was in keeping with the spirit of the game. Additionally, considering the Nazi party was responsible for a genocide and were the American and Allied Powers enemy during World War II, some expressed surprise that anyone would take offense to the idea of Nazis being portrayed as the antagonist of a video game. Twitter user @MiraVylash posted a series of the outraged responses with the caption "imagine seeing the words 'no more nazis' and reacting like this." The post (shown below) received more than 41,000 retweets and 91,000 likes in just four days.
That day, Peter Hines, the vice president of public relations at Bethesda, told the wesbite Game Industry:
"Wolfenstein has been a decidedly anti-Nazi series since the first release more than 20 years ago. We aren't going to shy away from what the game is about. We don't feel it's a reach for us to say Nazis are bad and un-American, and we're not worried about being on the right side of history here […] At the time none of us expected that the game would be seen as a comment on current issues, but here we are […] in Wolfenstein’s case, it’s pure coincidence that Nazis are marching in the streets of America this year. And it’s disturbing that the game can be considered a controversial political statement at all."
Wolfenstein 3D received backlash for having the Nazi Party's anthem "Horst-Wessel-Lied" and Nazi symbols over the levels. It received a censored version for Germany after initial release but the sales was later withdrawn due to national stigma. The game was also censored for the Super Nintendo release. Removing any Nazi reference, removing Hitler's mustache and renaming him "Staatmeister" and replacing the enemy dogs with giant mutant rats.
Wolfenstein: The New Order received a censored version in Germany on initial release as the public display of Nazi symbols is illegal and is a national stigma in Germany.
 The Washington Post – Even a video game’s ‘Make America Nazi-free Again’ slogan ticked some people off