Publisher Devolver Digital has apologised for the inclusion of Nazi imagery in its prison riot survival game, Scum, currently in early access. The offending images were removed from the game in a recent patch.
The apology came after the community manager of developer Gamepires asked players who were offended “not to play the game”, after pictures of tattoos with ties to white supremacy and Nazism were shared on the game’s subreddit and Steam.
Both Devolver and Gamepires have made clear that they harbour no extremist thoughts or sympathies for right-wing ideologies. The tattoos in question showed the number ‘1488’ – ’88’ is an abbreviation for the Nazi salute ‘Heil Hitler’ (‘H’ is the eighth letter of the alphabet), and ’14’ is similar shorthand for a particular white supremacist screed.
The inclusion of the tattoos divided players. Some felt that any inclusion of or reference to these ideologies was a step too far, while others suggested that the use of fascist symbols only works to demonstrate how terrible the people you’re killing actually are, which might remind you of the debate around Wolfenstein II: New Colossus.
In a statement to Polygon, Devolver said that the “use of the tattoo was intended to assist in portraying a realistic element of prison culture and the horrid elements within it. This content has been patched out as of this morning, and Devolver Digital are currently conducting a full review of all assets and content in the game with Gamepires. We strongly condemn any and all use of hateful symbology in our games and agree it should have never been in the game regardless of creative intent or realism. Devolver Digital apologizes unreservedly.”
Gamepires also sent out a response to Polygon, suggesting that whilst the tattoo was intended to create a more realistic experience, it was largely “unnecessary [and] should not have been included.”
This aside, Scum has actually been doing pretty well since it arrived on Steam Early Access. Its Steam concurrents passed 50,000 yesterday – ahead of Team Fortress 2 – while its Twitch viewership briefly spiked ahead of Fortnite. It’s shifted at least 250,000 copies so far, making it Devolver’s most successful game ever (and causing some unfortunate server problems for Gamepires, who say they never expected such success).