Games Workshop Strikes Back Against Fascist Symbols of Hatred in the Warhammer 40K Community

Warhammer 40K creator Games Workshop released a statement earlier today outlining a zero tolerance policy for hate groups at officially sanctioned events. “The Imperium is motivated by hate. Warhammer is not,” the post begins, before explaining the difference between the setting of its game and the behavior that is actually acceptable at community events.

A zero tolerance policy against hate groups doesn’t necessarily seem like it needs to be spelled out, but the Games Workshop statement indirectly referred to a recent Spanish Warhammer 40K tournament.

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The specific incident is detailed in this post on the Spanish blog “El Descanso del Escriba”. In short, an individual participating in an 800-player tournament in Talavera, Spain regularly competes under a nickname indirectly referring to Adolf Hitler. He attended the event bearing several Nazi symbols, including the logo of the 13th Panzer Division, which committed numerous atrocities in Poland during WWII. All participants who refused to play against him were penalized by the tournament organizers, and they refused to ask the individual in question to leave.

The co-optation and infiltration of subcultures by neo-Nazis has been a long-standing problem. The Dead Kennedys delivered a eloquent answer to their presence on the punk scene in 1981, and subsets of the heavy metal community remained a refuge for neo-Nazis and their ilk. Wargaming has struggled with this issue since its the very first days, with players throughout the ’60s suspiciously favoring a side in WWII games and founding magazines with names like “Fourth Reich”. It is also not the first time this problem arose with respect to Warhammer itself.

One of the first tabletop wargames, Tactics, released in 1954. (Image credit: User Kurzon, via Wikimedia)

Warhammer 40K, like its old wargames, is particularly vulnerable to this potential co-optation by hate groups due to the nature of its fiction. 40K presents a deliberately, almost playful, absurd, and sinister setting, with much of its fantasy centering on a distant future “Imperium of Man” where life can be mean, brutal, and short, but at least it feels like a cover art. heavy metal album. 40K’s unwanted neo-Nazi fanbase appears to either be missing or simply not caring that their fictional cadre of choice is deliberately mocking them. Games Workshop chose to make it clear that this was satirical fiction in its statement, stating that “The Imperium of Man stands as a warning about what could happen if the worst of thirst for power of mankind and an extreme and inflexible xenophobia set in. “

This is an admirable declaration of intent from Games Workshop, and its intent is well supported by a concrete zero tolerance policy. Although the post does not explicitly call for the Nazis or the Fascists, it does spell out the consequences of “any form of prejudice, hatred or abuse in our business or in the hobby of Warhammer.”

“If you come to a Games Workshop event or store and behave differently [of “shared values of mutual kindness and respect”], including wearing the symbols of real-world hate groups, you will be asked to leave. We will not let you participate. We don’t want your money. We don’t want you in the Warhammer community, ”the statement continued.

Games Workshop concludes the announcement by calling on independent event planners to do the same and offering their support to organize safe and inclusive gatherings.

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