You Know What, Maybe We Should Make Earth Super

Martin Rezny
Words of Tomorrow


How Helldivers 2 can help us turn a PvP world into a co-op world


Of all the possible things to exist, a Starship Troopers-inspired game may be the last thing I’d expect to offer potential solutions for world peace. But hey, I guess they were serious about the spreading of democracy. On the off chance that the lesson to learn here isn’t obvious, let me elaborate.

On the surface (the thinnest, most translucent of surfaces), the game may appear to glorify naked violence and militarism as a solution to all of the world’s problems. Which would be terrible, if it was sincere. Which it isn’t. It’s satire. Nobody would ever sincerely ask you to enjoy “a cup of liber-tea”.

Still, I feel the need to establish this anyway, considering there apparently were many (American) people who didn’t realize that Starship Troopers the movie was satire. Yeah. To quote the movie critics from Red Letter Media, if you think the movie is pro-fascist, “Did you… Miss the entire movie?”

Of course, the people who apparently missed the entire point of the movie still divide into two fundamentally opposed camps — people who neither like Nazis nor want to be Nazis, but who don’t understand humor; and people who were somehow converted by fictional mock propaganda because space guns go blam and killing bugs sounds like fun.

BTW, I don’t think either of these groups is wrong. I mean, it isn’t great there are people this boring and/or impressionable, but not liking Nazis is correct, and killing bugs with space guns does sound like a lot of fun. The gameplay of Helldivers 2 pretty much proves the second part scientifically.

But let’s not get overexcited about that second part, okay. I have already heard only half-joking takes on the internet like “I guess what we need to stop doing genocides is to switch to xenocide”. Sadly, it could work, unification-wise, for a bit, which is why it allegedly is the plan of the world’s actual Nazis (Project Blue Beam), so let’s fuck that.

If you think about what’s actually happening in the game, people playing Helldivers 2 aren’t banding together to kill real bugs or terminators, they’re banding together to have fun. Wait, *record scratching noises*, why am I saying such a simple idea as if people haven’t been doing that until now?

If you’ve been to the internet lately, like to play multiplayer games, the current meta seems to be about maximizing somebody being offended. For example, did you know that your gender identity is wrong? No, it doesn’t matter which one you have. All of them are wrong, to someone.

If you’re a woman, some group of incels/bros will keep telling you you’re intellectually inferior, or ugly, or flaunting your sexiness too much; if you’re a man, especially white, then you’re definitely oppressing someone and your opinion is invalid; and if you’re trans or anywhere on the LGBTQ spectrum, then there’s a group dedicated to hating whatever you are.

Let me use a disgusting real-world analogy to illustrate why this is a problem. Imagine a bunch of people trying to have fun in a pool. It only takes one asshole to shit in the pool, and then there’s shit in the pool, ruining the fun for everyone. The why of the shit really doesn’t matter.

Do you know how Helldivers 2 decided to handle that shit? They’re shutting down anyone who tries to stir shit on the forums, regardless of what their preferred flavor of shit is. I especially love this meme that sums it up in the game’s hilarious vernacular:

This right here is the most anti-divisive piece of media I have seen in years. And the anti-divisiveness doesn’t end there, it’s the actual sincere ideology of the game. There is no PvP mode, the game is only a co-op, on purpose. The players achieve better results the more cooperative they are.

Moreover, the game’s “story” centers around a fictional Super Earth. Not Super America, or Super West, or anything like that. Super Earth covers every human being from everywhere in the world. One could say that the satire here mocks primarily America, but it really mocks all fascism.

One could say this is a cynical ploy by the game developers to maximize their target audience. And sure, anti-divisiveness helps in that regard, but the anti-toxic effects of it are real even then. Try bonding with brothers (of any gender identity) from foreign countries over a great game and then be okay with your government bombing them for real. This works.

One could also say that it’s still a violent game that therefore promotes violence, but let me ask you this — who’s more of a problem for the planet? Manly men who are literally shooting people right now in real imperial wars, or manchildren (of any gender identity) who are fake shooting not people in a fake imperial war instead? As a Czech saying goes:

Kdo si hraje, nezlobí — They who play get up to no mischief

Even if we were to go interplanetary with the exact Helldivers’ strategy in a really dumb way, it wouldn’t be about waging a real war against real aliens, no. It would be about planting a bunch of animatronic bugs and aliens on other uninhabited planets, so that the aspirational space marine-type personalities could go there to fake fight them in like Robot Wars in Space.

The actual clever core of the propagandistic strategy that’s used so well in Helldivers 2 is about giving people something to unite over, something catchy, fun, and cooperative. Most propagandists are fascist assholes, so the main strategy behind most existing propaganda is the bad old “divide and conquer”. I say we try the opposite — “unite and overcome”.

Because let’s be clear about this, the divide and conquer strategy is a necessary tool of authoritarian control. It’s necessary because if enough people ever actually try to unite and overcome, for non-ironic democracy and liberty, then we will see a Super Earth in our time, in no time at all.

I’m not sure right now what the best thing is to unite over for most human beings, in messaging terms, but it sure as hell can’t be a division. We can’t unite over any kind of identitarianism. We literally, physically, logically can’t. If Helldivers 2 is any indication, people are extremely ready to cooperate on a shared mission, challenge, or at least a good time.

Let’s call this emerging type of regime “cooperacy” for now. Or maybe something like “unified triumphirate”. If the triumph we would seek and cooperate on wouldn’t be over other people, but instead over bad things that almost all of us want to end, like wars, where’s the downside?

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to know more.