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Tactics and tools How Russian propaganda is using video games to spread anti-Ukrainian narratives

In the conditions of the Russian aggressive war against Ukraine, anti-Ukrainian propaganda penetrates into all spheres of life: literature, music, cinema and other areas of culture. In particular, propagandists use the field of video games as a platform for relaying their “ideal” life scenario.

Russia finances its video game developers in every possible way so that they create mass products with “their own scenario”, which is beneficial to propaganda. Consequently, Russian products can offer their own alternative reality, disfiguring real facts and presenting it as reality. Players can have specific scenarios in their minds and they will perceive them as something real.

For example, the video game “Atomic heart” was recently released; a Russian company is developing this game. The game is positioned by the developers as retrofuturistic in the style of the USSR. It describes the events of the alternative history of the 50s, when the Soviet Union emerged from World War II as an absolute winner. In addition, it is scientifically and technically advanced, because it is able to create robots “replacing human labor”.

After the release of the game, scenes hinting at the criminal Russian war against Ukraine were found in it. For example, a flying drone that carries a pot of geraniums (an allusion to the Geranium kamikaze drone, a terrorist country launches into Ukraine and kills thousands of Ukrainians). In addition, the game has “beautiful Soviet photos” of Ukrainian Mariupol, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia. That is, the bridge, which at that time did not hit Russian missiles. The game also found quotes about mentally handicapped “Nazi pigs” and a can of minced pork in a blue and yellow wrapper. The Ministry of digital transformation of Ukraine has called for limiting the distribution of this game in other countries due to its toxicity and the potential collection of user data information.

This is not a rare case of discrediting Ukraine with the help of Russian video games, because their only goal is to distort Ukrainian history, discredit domestic and foreign policy, and create a negative image of Ukraine among both foreigners and Ukrainians. Parasitizing on “alternative realities”, game developers fix certain images in the minds of the players. Therefore, such stereotypes are created that “Ukraine is the territory of Russia” or “The Soviet Union is the best education of mankind”.

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