Hitler and Video Games

Yesterday, as in typical fashion, I was wondering.

There I sat, directly across from my sister in our living room as she concentrated intently on some silly game or another and my fingers flipped casually through some book I had printed off the internet in 7th grade, having only found it buried somewhere in the hurricane I like to call my room during the otherwise uneventful morning. (Pauses, takes breath, recognizes run-on sentence, doesn’t care.) There was something in particular about this game of my sister’s that caught my eye. Again, I was not truly paying much attention, so the details are a bit murky. But I noticed that each time she clicked the mouse, something (it could have been anything from a tasty snack to a butcher’s knife) was thrown at a virtual monkey, tied and bonded to a spinning wheel turning repeatedly in the center of the computer screen. The challenge was to hit the targeted monkey, I presume. Looking back, I remember my sister saying something about accidentally “killing” it. Well, perhaps the poor monkey was not being hit with sweets after all.

Upon closer thinking, I considered the role that games such as these play in the lives of the youth of our current society. Slowly and upon closer speculation, I was shocked that games with inadvertently murdered monkeys were commonplace, expected, and even considered healthy for your average American child. This got me wondering whether these games – and surely the much more violent ones as well – shape the minds of our current youth and future leaders of the world. Interesting thought, no?

But immediately after my mind had considered that thought, something crazier popped into mind: What if Hitler had video games?

Yes, you heard me correctly. Though I still have trouble understanding how my mind reaches such seemingly random topics (I’ve been told it’s called ADHD.), the jump is most likely explained by the fact that I have long recognized Adolf Hitler as a horribly evil albeit amazing political genius with a special knack for subtly brainwashing anyone who called him “Fuhrer.” What with the Nazi youth programs Hitler employed to slowly but surely instill a racist, Jew-hating philosophy into what would have otherwise been innocently minded young boys and girls, in several years time, Hitler had succeeded in going where no man had ever gone before. He truly created a nation of puppets, and having created their connecting strings and latched them onto his subjects himself, dressed his brainwashed puppets in S.S. garb of his own choice, to do with them as he pleased. And he did, as anyone with a brief knowledge of history will tell you. Adolf Hitler most certainly did, and nearly got away with it too. Imagine the children of pre-World War II Germany going home at night to play some terrible “game” in which they had to capture and kill a filthy jew in order to claim victory. What would they do but be helplessly brainwashed? Yes, I think Hitler would have had himself a time with the invention of video games. I’m not really sure if history would be worse off had he used them to his advantage, seeing as the way it actually did go down is pretty damn awful as it is. And I thank the heavens above that I don’t have to be.

But most of all, I wonder if we are being “brainwashed” today. Here, now, ourselves. The thought sounds ridiculous in my head and looks even more so in words. But the inescapable truth is, who really knows? Nobody. And if anyone says they do they’ve got to be lying through their teeth. I’m not being cynical and I’m not being paranoid, just sensible, really. Because when you think about it, did any of the Nazi children understand the corruption that was being fed to them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a daily basis? And can one honestly assert that the Nazi soldiers had any inkling of an idea that there existed within their lives a single force, so powerful that it could infiltrate their very minds and shove any given belief down their throats at will?

Such is the dangerous power of the media, people. Perhaps the subtle brainwashing on the scale of what Hitler did to his beloved Germany does not exist in our world today. But even if it does not, one thing is certain – whoever controls the media controls society as well, down to every last thinking member that comprises it. I am no exception. Granted, someone who grew up only watching Fox news has a totally different way of thinking than someone who grew up only watching MSNBC. It may seem obvious, but it’s that powerful and that simple. And take religion for example. I currently attend a school which fits under the label of orthodox Judaism. That’s due to the fact that I was raised in a Jewish household which is due to the fact that my parents were raised in a Jewish household as well.

But what if they weren’t? And what if I myself had been born in India and was raised in a strictly Hindu household instead? Had that been the case, the odds are that I too would consider myself a believing Hindu follower, complete with that nifty red dot in my head and all. And what about if I grew up somewhere in the ever turbulent Middle East? A vast amount of people do. Such people will, in all likelihood, wear turbans if they are male and cover their body from head to toe if they are female. They will pray to Allah five times a day, regardless of their sex. Well, assuming we’re talking about Muslims, of course.

I myself will not. As for me, I will continue to attend a Jewish school complete with Jewish teachers, students, and beliefs etched onto its walls and blacksmartboards. There’s not much I can do to change that. So, taking a rather gigantic leap here, perhaps we aren’t quite as susceptible as Germany was to Hitler and his “video games”, but then again, perhaps we are. And again, if this is indeed the case, there’s really not much any individual in particular can do about it. Especially in an age of such rapid technological advancement, I believe our beliefs to be influenced more than ever by forces far beyond our control (maybe even that one as well!). So let us keep our fingers crossed and pray that we don’t become subliminally transformed into a nation of zombies by the powers that be. It doesn’t seem very likely, but the questions remain – would we ever realize? Would we care enough to take a stand? Would it take future history textbooks to point out what had been done? It’s an interesting train of thought if you ask me. My fingers crossed for the fate of the world as we know it, I think it’s time for a stroll down the block to soak in the brisk November breeze and listen to some music before the sun sets on this particularly peaceful Sunday afternoon.

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2 Responses to Hitler and Video Games

  1. Eitan J. says:

    First of all, regarding the whole Hitler-video-games thing: For all we know, if violent video games had already been invented, it could have caused fewer people to follow Hitler. Maybe Hitler would’ve had Grand Theft Auto to take care of his major anger problems. Or people could’ve been too absorbed in Halo to bother killing Jews. My point is there are too many what-ifs to make a conclusion.
    Second, regarding the second part of the essay: Define “brainwashing” or “propaganda.” According to your definition, pretty much anything in existence is brainwashing. If you look outside and become happy because you see a rainbow, does that mean nature has brainwashed you? The only way not to become “brainwashed” is to be born without the 5 senses and to just spend your entire life thinking. If you think about it this way, is “brainwashing” really a bad thing? To some extent it is a necessary “evil,” just the question is to what extent.

    • jonathanadam says:

      Eitan J,
      I agree with the idea that when speaking of Hitler, or of any historic figure or event for that matter, there are too many “what-if’s” to make real conclusions. I do believe that had Hitler achieved any position of power already with his Jew hating philosophy combined with the existence of video games, he would have utilized them for brainwashing purposes. That’s just given the fact that he did use any means possible to “brainwash,” from movies to music to books to newspapers to cartoons and so on. There is no reason not to believe that had video games been around in WWII era Germany, they would not have followed that same pattern and been just another one of his tools.
      But you’re totally right saying that any change in the world prior to his rise to power could have changed one small thing which could have in turn changed the course of human history. It’s the classic “Butterfly Effect” theory – go back in time and change one thing, such as the existence of a simple butterfly, and you change everything else too. That’s the problem every one of those “time travel” movies seems to deal with. There’s always speculation but we can never really know.

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