Games Workshop has issued a statement reminding players about the nature of Warhammer 40K’s Imperium of Man after a player wore Nazi imagery to a tournament.
As our friends over at Dicebreaker reported, a recent Warhammer 40,000 tournament in Spain allegedly failed to kick out a team whose member wore clothing bearing Nazi symbols.
This sparked the statement from Games Workshop, which did not directly address the alleged incident at the tournament in Spain but did issue a warning to tournament-goers not to follow suit.
“We believe in and support a community united by shared values of mutual kindness and respect. Our fantasy settings are grim and dark, but that is not a reflection of who we are or how we feel the real world should be. We will never accept nor condone any form of prejudice, hatred, or abuse in our company, or in the Warhammer hobby.
“If you come to a Games Workshop event or store and behave to the contrary, including wearing the symbols of real-world hate groups, you will be asked to leave. We won’t let you participate. We don’t want your money. We don’t want you in the Warhammer community.”
Earlier in the statement, Games Workshop discussed Warhammer 40K’s Imperium of Man, calling it satirical.
The Imperium of Man is the faction within the Warhammer 40K universe that includes the various chapters of the Space Marines – heavily-armoured super soldiers who travel the galaxy eradicating “xenos scum” in the name of the Emperor.
In the Warhammer 40K lore, the Imperium of Man has fallen far from the vision of “Imperial Truth” set out by the Emperor before his demise during the Horus Heresy. On Terra (Earth) billions of humans live in the squalor of shanty towns and in fear of persecution from a religious cult dedicated to the Emperor. Ultramarines primarch Roboute Guilliman, one of the main characters in the ongoing 40K story, was revived 10,000 years after his death to find the Imperium of Man in such a state that he ordered a series of purges of the higher levels of Imperial society.
“There are no goodies in the Warhammer 40,000 universe,” Games Workshop’s statement begins. None. Especially not the Imperium of Man.
“Its numberless legions of soldiers and zealots bludgeon their way across the galaxy, delivering death to anyone and anything that doesn’t adhere to their blinkered view of purity. Almost every man and woman toils in misery either on the battlefield – where survival is measured in hours – or in the countless manufactorums and hive slums that fuel the Imperial war machine. All of this in slavish servitude to the living corpse of a God-Emperor whose commandments are at best only half-remembered, twisted by time and the fallibility of Humanity.
“Warhammer 40,000 isn’t just grimdark. It’s the grimmest, darkest.
“The Imperium of Man stands as a cautionary tale of what could happen should the very worst of Humanity’s lust for power and extreme, unyielding xenophobia set in. Like so many aspects of Warhammer 40,000, the Imperium of Man is satirical.
“For clarity: satire is the use of humour, irony, or exaggeration, displaying people’s vices or a system’s flaws for scorn, derision, and ridicule. Something doesn’t have to be wacky or laugh-out-loud funny to be satire. The derision is in the setting’s amplification of a tyrannical, genocidal regime, turned up to 11. The Imperium is not an aspirational state, outside of the in-universe perspectives of those who are slaves to its systems. It’s a monstrous civilisation, and its monstrousness is plain for all to see.”
Games Workshop said “certain real-world hate groups – and adherents of historical ideologies better left in the past – sometimes seek to claim intellectual properties for their own enjoyment, and to co-opt them for their own agendas”, which leads into the warning sparked by the incident at the Spanish tournament.
Games Workshop’s reminder of the nature of the Imperium of Man feels like common sense, but as it says some of its aesthetic and lore have been co-opted by white supremacists and fascist groups. A Vice report from last year discussed a community effort to rid the tabletop fantasy game of its small but vocal alt-right minority. According to the report, “closed 40k Facebook groups have become a repository of racism and far-right content, filled with Warhammer-themed memes mocking everything from specific ethnic minorities to gender equality.” There’s even a “God Emperor Trump” meme.
As Dicebreaker points out, Games Workshop has called on other event organisers to join the company in its stance.