There Are No Monsters

A quote from Grace Walker.

Nobody here but people with evil hearts.

“Not monsters. Men.” This is one of the shorter lines revolutionary leader Grace Walker says to Nazi killing machine BJ Blazkowicz in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus when they first meet after mowing down a significant number of Nazi soldiers to get to her.

It’s a simple statement of just three words uttered with the power and knowledge of a Black woman who knows the depths of depravity humanity is capable of. Monsters are not responsible for some of the most heinous acts that have ever been committed. The human species is. It is at once a strong rebuke of games’ tendency to treat fascism as a punching bag or source of cannon fodder and a grim reminder of the nature of evil from someone who knows firsthand what that’s like.

And yet this game is an odd place for this message at first glance. After all, this is Wolfenstein we’re talking about, the game where a Jewish supersoldier takes matters into his own hands and kills countless Nazis. The catharsis of Nazis as enemies to be killed by the player feels incompatible with asking us to view these hollow shells controlled by AI as people. In reality, though, much like in real life, these points of view go hand in hand. Yes, it’s important to remember that people are capable of great evil, and yes, that’s why we need to keep punching fascists wherever we can, lest this poison be left to fester and further corrupt the collective consciousness.

By Jeremy Signor

Jeremy Signor is a radical queer games critic from the wilds of Pennsylvania. His byline can be found at PCGamesN, Fanbyte, Unwinnable, EGM, and more. You can follow him on Twitter @Jeremy_Writes

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