Electronic Arts is a major international video game development company stationed out of California, with main offices in Edmonton, Montreal and Vancouver. Responsible for blockbuster franchises as The Sims, FIFA, Madden NFL, and Battlefield, it has grown to a $5 billion operation since its founding in 1982, and is one of the biggest gaming companies in the world.
But Electronic Arts' Berlin office just entered into a troubling partnership, one that has German gamers reeling.
The EA office in Berlin recently announced it was partnering with the Amadeu Antonio Foundation and its program “Keine Pixel für Faschisten” [No Pixels for Fascists]. The Orwellian program seeks to monitor political beliefs in the video game industry and among players for “racism, sexism, and anti-semitism.”
In general, gamers are spread across the gamut of the political spectrum — if they’re even political at all. There is no evidence to suggest that gamers are particularly susceptible to extremist ideologies, but it is a narrative being promoted by the likes of social justice-oriented organizations like Feminist Frequency, and the ADL, which recently released a whitepaper alleging the rise of white nationalism in video games through the Steam gaming platform.
Highlighting the unpopularity of ADL’s claims, gamers on Twitter bombarded the organization’s tweet with negative feedback, essentially “ratio”-ing the post.
Unlike the ADL and other organizations, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation is no ordinary social justice startup.
The Foundation is headed by Anette Kahane, a former agent of the East German Ministry of Security, also known as the Stasi -- the repressive secret police that monitored and brutally suppressed dissent in East Germany after the Second World War. At its height, the Stasi had over 102,000 officers and nearly a quarter of a million of its own citizens spying on family members, neighbours and colleagues for wrongthink.
In a German news profile from 2019, Kahane’s activity in the Stasi was revealed through leaked documents. She was considered an excellent asset, enthusiastic in the performance of her work, and submitted intimate information to the Government on the lives of her friends, family, journalists, and even Chilean immigrants fleeing the fascist Pinochet regime. She also wrote extensive reports detailing people's private lives, from weddings to teenager’s birthday parties.
Kahane also led to the “denunciation” of two actors who were critical of the East German regime. Thomas and Klaus Brasch were labeled “enemies of the GDR” by Annette Kahane in 1976, leading the two to fear for their safety. Thomas managed to successfully flee to West Germany, but Klaus committed suicide in 1980 allegedly due to the harassment of Stasi police.
German media has noted that Annette Kahane has multiple influential supporters, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who issued a personal video in support of Kahane’s “361 Degrees Tolerance” project.
In 2016, historian and Director of the Hohenschönhausen Stasi victims Memorial Dr. Hubertus Knabe slammed a Ministry of Justice “anti-hate speech” program which had recruited Kahane and her foundation, calling it “incomprehensible” that she had been given “the sensitive task” of “controlling the Internet.”
In 2018, there was public outcry when Kahane and her foundation published an information booklet for school teachers and early-age educators aimed at identifying “Nazi parents.” The booklet suggested blonde girls wearing braids and boys being athletic were signs that children should be monitored for potential removal from the home.
Kahane reportedly left the Stasi in 1982. However, if Electronic Arts wants to take social responsibility and do its part in curbing the rise of extremist ideologies online, particularly white supremacism, it could’ve simply done so through a plethora of different organizations — not one founded by a contentious figure who essentially acted as a tool of leftover fascists responsible for one of the most repressive regimes in the 20th century.
The fact that EA is using a former member of the Stasi to police its customers for wrongthink should send shudders down the spine of anyone concerned about freedoms and liberties.
Rebel News reached out to EA Germany but did not receive a response by the time of publication.