Playing Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus After Parenthood

It came out a while ago but you remember before you had a son that you liked The New Order so you get it on a sale because you are a Daddy now and you can't let your money show that video games are a priority even though sometimes it feels like they are the only place you are really important or needed.

So you get the game and try to indulge in Nazi killing while your baby naps, but there are constant flickers on the screen. Is it my GPU? Not really sure what the problem is even after looking on forums. The game has already had patches so why are there artifacts? Then you figure out about a third of the way through the game that you need to turn GPU culling off, and you can actually focus on playing it.

Okay, back to the game. It looks pretty good. Nazis splatter all over the screen until you try to have fun. You run into a room with two shotguns and start to unload the lead into the Nazi scum but this game does not want you to run into the room. You die in 2 hits. Your body is made of tissue paper and you must hide in a corner with your shotguns. You do not have time for this but the difficulty menu mocks your frustration and you try to soldier on but dammit. Has anyone else complained about this on Reddit?

They have, it's not just you. Becoming a Dad has not made you a casual. Well, you know what? You are not playing this to hide in a corner and peak Nazis to death. You are here for murderous fun. You have no right, difficulty menu. I don't care that playing the game at half health is thematically appropriate because it is not fun. I do not have time for this. Do you know how hard it is to get my son to sleep? I am a real Daddy and you have no right to mock me.

At least you can enjoy the story.

So you try to enjoy it but you don't. You are apathetic and you don't know why. You loved the one before this. You loved the characters. Is it because of the politics? You do not think so. The politics of the game do not trigger you like they trigger the Neo-Nazis and the reactionists. Then they chop off your head and you know what? You don't care. In fact the head chopping is perfectly fine and believable. What is more unbelievable is your wife, Anya, running around killing Nazis while pregnant with twins. Have these writers ever had a baby? Did they have to watch their wives suffer while a human grew inside them? Did they watch a life borne through blood into this harsh, bright world where you must now teach your son what it means to be a good white man, even though you are not even sure how to be one? Now you are racked with guilt for what your race has done and where the hell does the game want me to go? The level design is terrible, not that many guns either, not even any bosses. Why did people gush about this game? I like parts of the story, I really do. And I hate Nazis and what they represent; they are morally acceptable revenge fodder. If only I could fix my country's problems by changing the difficulty and killing them.

But then I would have to get decapitated like BJ.

BJ. I really do not understand him in this game. In the last one rage woke him from a coma because he had to kill Nazis. In this one he is in a wheelchair and his rage is not enough. But then his head is chopped off and grafted onto a super soldaten which cures his depression? Is that what I need to do to be a good white man? Do I need to decapitate myself from everything I have ever identified with? Is there anything good about a strong white male character living in the 2020s? I wish BJ had had surgery instead so that I could keep the good organs like standing up for what is right, and discard the bad organs like leaving no room for questioning my actions. Who am I, and who are you?

So you sit on BJ's new clone body like his decapitated head and do what you think the game is telling you your purpose is: kill Nazis. But when the Nazis are dead and the physical threats are gone what will happen to BJ? Will he be sitting in his room sixty years later with a controller in his hands exacting revenge on evil white men while questioning his identity? WWBJD? He can only kill Nazis on the screen, even though real invaders marched on the capitol when they were emboldened by a president improvising an ignorant beat on a cauldron filled with self loathing, frustration, and looking for someone to blame. WWBJD? BJ might go kill them, or go kill the ex-president, but that is not what a good man would do. It might only stoke the martyr complex. BJ does not know what it means to be an American anymore because his country has fallen, and perhaps you feel like yours has too, but at least your Nazis are not copy-pasted Nazi chics with nice hair and a half-century of hunger to whip them into a war machine. No, your Nazis are sad, poor men and women drunk on Heineken, fear, and algorithms employed by the rich men and women drunk on cocktails of power and also fear. BJ would only bring more death, and that will not solve your country's problems.

It is a good thing that you are not BJ, because you are a good man who understands that violence is the refuge of the hopeless, greedy, and incompetent men who are too weak to be kind. You do not need to carry a gun around because you have killed enough and you are not afraid of sharing land you never owned in the first place. You are not afraid of your opinions because you are not afraid of being wrong. Your self-esteem is no longer crushed by strong looking men like BJ Blascowicz, because Americans and more importantly your wife and son do not need BJ anymore. Their problems cannot be solved by killing Nazis. You shut off the game and delete it.

#organic #wolfenstein #politics #parenthood

First, thank you for reading! To echo a sentiment from Thomas Hardy, I greatly regret that I will never be able to meet you in person and shake your hand, but perhaps we can virtually shake hands via my newsletter, social media, or a cup of coffee sent over the wire. They are poor substitutes, but they can be a real grace in this intractable world.

This piece was a short experimental story that I wrote a few years ago and just dug out and edited because I couldn't forget about it. It grew out of my frustration with Wolfenstein II, politics, and the challenges of becoming a first time parent.

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