Pong – A Secret Communist Propaganda Video Game?

Pong; it was the first commercially-successful video game and a universally-known arcade classic. But is there more than meets the eye? Is Pong… subliminal communist propaganda?

Come with me on a journey of subterfuge and conspiracy to find out!

Background Music – Hello Lenin! by Schnitz Productions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDB3I…

Mario Kart’s Rubber-Banding is Like a Soviet Five-Year Plan

Once again, Nintendo and its creations eerily mirror the Soviet Union in a number of ways, this time with Mario Kart.

Mario Kart is a game designed for the whole family, pitting popular characters from the Mario and greater Nintendo universe against each other in a go-kart race to the finish line with speed boosts, sky-soaring jumps, and infuriating special abilities.

One of the ways that Nintendo have made the Mario Kart franchise universally accessible is through a number of balancing mechanics that keep every player continually challenged in a fun way and makes sure that, even if you’re lagging behind, you’re afforded opportunities that keep the race equally competitive. And I can’t help but see parallels between these mechanics and a Soviet five-year plan, so let’s look into this some more.

 

Rubber-Banding

When playing Mario Kart with AI, a patented mechanic is implemented: rubber-banding. Introduced in Mario Kart 64, the game will either give CPU racers who lag too far behind you an abnormal speed boost as an opportunity to catch up with you, or will hinder the performance of your vehicle for the same effect. While this may initially seem unfairly-punishing to players who put the extra work in to make it to first place, in reality it keeps the experience consistently challenging, and makes sure you’re always on your toes.

This mirrors the Soviet Union’s five-year plans, wherein every facet of economic development including agriculture, transportation, health and education, was carefully monitored and controlled to maintain an equal level of growth.

 

The Blue Shell

The Blue Shell is perhaps the most infamous of Mario Kart’s item roster, introduced in the 1996/97 release Mario Kart 64. It’s similar in function to the Red Shell, firing off and homing in on the player ahead of them to stall them for a few seconds and giving you an advantage. Only, the Blue Shell specifically targets the player in first place. It, and other powerful items, become more likely pick-ups the further you are from first place, as a means of giving players performing more poorly a chance to get back into the fray.

This aspect of Mario Kart also ties into the five-year plan system. During each five-year period, while every aspect of the economy was maintained at roughly the same level, special focus would be given to a specific industry throughout the plan in order to bolster it depending on the needs of the state.

 

Intention vs. Reception

Mario Kart’s balancing in these two aspects were always intended to make races an even playing field regardless of skill, experience and accessibility, because at the end of the day, Nintendo wanted to make something that anyone can enjoy: that sells. But, varying from iteration to iteration of the franchise, it’s always been ragged on by some who feel that it makes the game boring, and that it doesn’t reward players who put a lot of effort into being really good at beating their counterparts.

Similarly, many Capitalist thinkers who praise the free market as a bastion of diversity in options and that rewards the hard worker over what they’d call the “freeloader,” don’t understand that unregulated economy breeds systematic inequality, and harms the little guy who might not have the resources or opportunities afforded to those better-off, and thus will suffer under such a system.

 

What do you all think? I suspect, especially given Nintendo’s track record of being comparable to the Soviet Union, that this is pretty conclusive evidence of the Soviet Union inspiring a lot of what the Japanese company did and how they behaved, especially back in the day.

[DISCLAIMER: ANY NONSENSICAL CONNECTIONS MADE BETWEEN VIDEO GAMES AND COMMUNIST THEMES, ZEALOUS AND SELF-RIGHTEOUS DICTATOR-ESQUE BEHAVIORS, AND PERCEIVED SUPPORT AND/OR APOLOGISM OF OPPRESSIVE REGIMES LIKE THE SOVIET UNION ARE PURELY INSTANCES OF SELF-SATIRE AS A MEANS OF COMICAL INTROSPECTION, AND IN SOME CASES HAVE NO BASIS IN TRUTH OR PERSONAL BELIEF.]

YOUR FAVE IS COMMUNISTIC – Ep.1: BG&E’s Jade (Ft. LauraKBuzz)

In this first episode of Your Fave is Communistic, I try to convince games journalist Laura Kate Dale that Jade from Beyond Good and Evil is a Communist.

Laura’s Twitter

[DISCLAIMER: ANY NONSENSICAL CONNECTIONS MADE BETWEEN VIDEO GAMES AND COMMUNIST THEMES, ZEALOUS AND SELF-RIGHTEOUS DICTATOR-ESQUE BEHAVIORS, AND PERCEIVED SUPPORT AND/OR APOLOGISM OF OPPRESSIVE REGIMES LIKE THE SOVIET UNION ARE PURELY INSTANCES OF SELF-SATIRE AS A MEANS OF COMICAL INTROSPECTION, AND IN SOME CASES HAVE NO BASIS IN TRUTH OR PERSONAL BELIEF.]

Comparing the Imperium of Man and the Soviet Union

Humanity’s creations often bear resemblances as a result of inspiration, be it conscious or subconscious. This can also be explained by coincidence. But sometimes, coincidence can seem awfully strong. Much like the number of coincidences to be found between the Soviet Union and the Imperium of Man from the Warhammer 40,000 universe. And, as the 8th edition of the game has recently been released, what better a time to explore them!

 

They Were Both Inspired by an Idealist Man

Ten thousand years before the 41st millennium, the Emperor of Mankind ruled over the Imperium. When many wished to worship him as a God Emperor, he said, “I am not a god; rather than enslaving humanity I want to free it from ignorance and superstition.” After his ‘death’ at the hands of Horus and his installation into the Golden Throne, 10,000 years  passed, and throughout this time, the citizens of the Imperium and its custodians all revered him as the God Emperor that he wished not to be.

Much like the Emperor, Karl Marx was simply a scholar with a strong mind and a pure vision for humanity who believed religion to be “the opiate of the masses,” and throughout the duration of the Soviet Union after his death, was considered almost god-like by its citizens and rulers.

They Both Had Commissars

Within the structure of the Imperium are Commissars. Often assigned to Imperial Navy ships or to regiments of the Astra Militarum, the Commissars act independently of the entities that they are assigned to, their primary roles being the enforcement of discipline and devotion to the Emperor of Mankind.

The Soviet Union also employed Political Commissars, who also existed outside of the official bulk of the Red Army. Their primary roles were also discipline and devotion to the Soviet Union, and they performed this role through the production of propaganda that they formulated based on their experiences with their assigned regiments and entities.

 

They Both Had Go-Getters to Realise Their Ideals

By the Emperor’s side sat Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines. He was considered by many a Paragon of the Imperium, and before his brutal brush with death led the Ultramarines and all the other Space Marine chapters not fallen to chaos on a glorious crusade to unite the galaxy under the Imperium of Man. On the brink of death after his battle with Fulgrim, Guilliman was placed into stasis, until his resurrection in the 41st Millennium, wherein he condemned what the Imperium had become, saying: “Look what they’ve made of our dream. This bloated, rotting carcass of an empire is driven not by reason and hope but by fear, hate and ignorance. Better that we had all burned in the fires of Horus’ ambition than live to see this.”

Similarly, Vladimir Lenin was a significant figure in the forming of the Soviet Union, himself leading the revolution that resulted in its formation. He championed Marx’s ideals in the same way that Guilliman did the Emperor’s, and upon his demise his body was preserved and kept in a tomb, still to be seen this day behind glass in Moscow. This is very weird, but is also almost a kind of stasis if you think about it. And I have no doubt that, were Lenin to be resurrected like that bit in The Simpsons, then he’d also be rather upset about the legacy of the Soviet Union.

 

They Both Have Winter Soldiers that Wear Ushankas

The Astra Militarum are the primary fighting force of the Imperium of Man. One of its regiments, The Valhallan Ice Warriors, are “famous for their tenaciousness in holding their ground against even the most hopeless odds, and their ability to suffer the most appalling casualties without breaking.” They adorn long, grey coats and ushankas that keep them warm on their homeworld of Valhalla.

The Soviet Union’s Red Army is awfully similar to the Valhallan Ice Warriors, which is definitely a massive coincidence and not because they were based off of them, honest. They had long, grey coats and ushankas as Russia is a very cold place, and they were famous for their ability to stand ground and defend positions, as well as to suffer heavy casualties, like at the Siege of Stalingrad in 1942.

 

Well, there you go. I’d say the evidence is pretty compelling: Warhammer 40,000 is actually secretly Communist Propaganda, and I bet it doesn’t even know that it is. Say what you will, I merely spread the hard facts. What do you think? Let me know!

[Disclaimer: any nonsensical connections made between video games and Communist themes, zealous and self-righteous dictator-esque behaviors, and perceived support and/or apologism of oppressive regimes like the Soviet Union are purely instances of self-satire as a means of comical introspection, and in some cases have no basis in truth or personal belief.]

Comparing Nintendo and the Soviet Union

Human history is cluttered with instances of large, dominating forces that sweep societies and take hold of nations. Genghis Khan’s Mongol Empire, Ancient Roman Post-Republic society, and, in the past decade, two equally impactful phenomenon in their respective fields… Nintendo and the Soviet Union.

 

mario-stalinNow, you may be asking yourselves: “Comrade George! How could Nintendo and the Soviet Union possibly be similar? One was a Marxist-Leninist state, and the other is a bourgeoisie corportation! Well, dear readers, while this may be the case, the two entities do share their similarities, and I’m going to tell you what they are.

 

Both Succeeded a Failing System

A quite significant comparison to draw is that both the Soviet Union and Nintendo established their dominance in the wake of an already failing system. For the Soviet Union, it was the oppressive Russian Empire led at the time by Tsar Nicholas II. The Bolshevik Party and it’s allies led a revolution in 1917 to overthrow the regime with great success, and eventually went on to form the Soviet Union.

et vs tsar.pngFor Nintendo, this was embodied in the North American video game crash of 1983. The video game industry experienced a massive recession, with a primary cause being the saturation of the market with video games of immensely poor quality, like the infamous E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, that led to the downfall of the second generation of console gaming. In the wake of this crash, in a time where it was public opinion that home consoles were a dead medium, Nintendo released the Famicom, known as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in the west. It proved immensely successful, revived the home console industry, and led to Nintendo’s domination of the industry, ushering in the third generation of consoles.

 

Both Took Measures to Prevent a Relapse

A very real concern when revitalizing or replacing a phenomenon is the possibility that it relapses into what came before it. Both Nintendo and the Soviet Union enforced contingencies as a means of preventing this, with the Soviet Union very quickly moving to a Marxist-Leninist system that enforced a one-party state, suppressing political opponents to the regime and those that might have aspired to reinstate the monarchy.

seal of approval one party state.pngNintendo’s moves to prevent another video game crash included moves such as the enforcement of strict prerequisites and regulations on 3rd party publishers for the NES, loading all NES machines with 10NES chips that rendered games without the Nintendo Golden Seal of Approval unplayable, as well as a policy that required 3rd party publishers to pay full-price for cartridges to be produced for their games as a means of restricting accountability to said developers.

 

They’re Both Used to Describe Things That They Aren’t

People of ignorance will often look to that which they will not understand and declare it that which it is not. For instance, the Red Scare that gripped America in the 40’s and 50’s, a time where the perceived threat of Communism led to flagrant false accusations of individuals even only minutely left-leaning being Communists sent from the Soviet Union to destroy America.

nintendo red scare.pngSimilarly, it’s common for those of an elder disposition to find difficulty in the specific classification of similar things. A frequent trend, most notably in the late 20th century, was the referral of any and all home consoles as “Nintendos” by the older populations, be it parents or grandparents, which subsequently led to unfortunate mix-ups during the holiday season and birthdays.

 

They’re Both Associated with the Colour Red

nintendo-hammer-and-sickleThis one’s undeniable: The Nintendo logo is often stylized with a colour palette primarily consisting of a deep, vibrant red, a colour intrinsically linked to the iconography of the Soviet Union and many other left-leaning organizations and ideologies.

 

There you have it! A mere handful of similarities present within Nintendo and the Soviet Union. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense, actually. Especially considering Nintendo even made a deal with Soviet Union-owned Elektronorgtechnica, the electronics import and export company responsible for distributing Tetris, so that Nintendo could license the game.

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(No, seriously. Read this Kotaku article. This image is the official ad that they used to announce it.)