It only took one day for that Mickey Mouse horror game to stir up some serious controversy

The developers of recently announced horror game Infestation 88 have changed its name to Infestation: Origins in response to accusations that a number of elements of it could be interpreted to have Neo-Nazi connotations.

The game, which is set to become available via early access at some point in 2024, features a slasherised version of Steamboat Willie, an early version of Mickey Mouse that’s just become public domain. However, the details about it released so far have raised some eyebrows online, leading developer Nightmare Forge Games to issue a response.

A number of the aspects of the game that have drawn criticism for their potential Nazi connotations are outlined in this Twitter thread by streamer Josh ‘Anoriand’ Fagundes. It’s the combination of things like the use of the number 88, which can be used as a numerical code signifying the phrase “Heil Hitler”, in the game’s title and the use of “rat-based imagery” that’ve left some wondering whether the game is intentionally trying to attract attention from Nazis.

In response to these accusations, Nightmare Forge Games posted a statement to Twitter, in which it said:

“Our game ‘Infestation 88’ is set in the 1980s, with the year 1988 chosen simply due to its symmetrical design in the game’s artwork/logo. Unfortunately, we were unaware of any additional meanings the number ‘88’ has. However, after learning about this, we’re changing the game’s name to ‘Infestation: Origins’.”

The studio has claimed that its team isn’t made up of Neo-Nazis in response to Inverse directly asking if this is the case. It asserted that the decision not to make any details about the staff working on the game public, aside from describing the studio as “a team of industry veterans who have specialised in creating horror games since 2010” was made in order to maintain privacy amid an initial surge in attention around the game.

Nightmare Forge Games also responded to one user replying to the statement with screenshots purported to be evidence that some members of the game’s Discord server could be Neo-Nazis.

“The users shown here aren’t associated with Nightmare Forge Games,” the studio claimed, “All rule-breaking users have been banned from the server.”

At the end of the day, it’s up to you personally to decide whether these statements from Nightmare Forge Games are adequate enough to satisfy any concerns you might have about the game’s intentions.

Given the complex and tenuous forms a lot of Nazi dog whistles take in order to be easily deniable, odds are we’ll never actually find out if that was the intention behind these aspects of the game now going by Infestation: Origins.

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