Playing Hitler: The representation of Nazism in Hearts of Iron IV
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Hearts of Iron IV is a strategy game set during the Second World War, and it features a representation of Nazi-Germany that some right-wing extremists online have taken interest in. This thesis seeks to analyse that representation of Nazi-Germany in order to work out what it communicates about Nazism and how much room for interpretation it leaves open to the player. To answer the research question of how the formalistic devices of Hearts of Iron IV create its representation of Nazi-Germany, this thesis employs textual analysis with a neoformalist approach. The analysis suggests that the room for interpretation left open to the player of the game is quite large, with the game making very few overt value judgements about Nazi-Germany. This means that the game itself does not contain a pro-Nazi message, but instead it serves as a blank slate representation of Nazi-Germany onto which players are able to project their ideology. Consequently, the game on its own is unlikely to contribute directly to radicalisation, as it doesn’t contain much in the way of radicalising content. However, it is probable that it is the open interpretative space that appeals to neo-Nazis, as it allows them to project their ideology onto the game.
Mastergradsoppgave i digital kommunikasjon og kultur, Høgskolen i Innlandet, 2020.