Mickey Mouse horror game Infestation 88 has been renamed after fans claimed the game contained hidden Neo-Nazi references.
Developers at Nightmare Forge Games created the game after the copyright on Disney’s earliest Mickey Mouse from 1928 short film Steamboat Willie expired on January 1 – but the game’s name and features soon ignited uproar.
Fans quickly called out the game for including 88 in the title as the number has been used by Neo-Nazi groups to symbolize the slogan ‘Heil Hitler’ with the letter ‘H’ being the eighth number of the alphabet.
Further backlash was aimed at the game using the word ‘infestation’, rat-based imagery and gassing in its storyline.
Gas chambers were used by Nazis in the Second World War to kill millions of Jewish people in concentration camps during the Holocaust.
Mickey Mouse horror game Infestation 88 has been renamed after fans claimed the game contained hidden Neo-Nazi references
Nightmare Forge Games has since issued an apology, clarified the 88 was in reference to the year 1988 and said there was no ‘intentional use of Nazi symbolism’ in their work.
They have also changed the game’s name to Infestation: Origins.
In a statement to IGN, Nightmare Forge Games said: ‘Unfortunately, at the time of its announcement, we were unaware of any additional meanings the number 88 has.
‘Through feedback from the community, we learned it did, and therefore made this name change ASAP.
‘We want to apologize for our ignorance on this topic and appreciate that it was brought to our attention so we could address it.
‘There is no intentional use of Nazi symbolism in our game nor studio, and we’ll continue to address any concerns as they arise. We strongly stand against Nazism and hate in any form.’
A developer spokesman from the company had previously told Kotaku: ‘Our game is set in the 1980s, with the year 1988 being chosen simply for its symmetrical design in our game’s artwork.
‘Therefore, the 88 strictly represents the year 1988; no additional connotations are intended.
Developers at Nightmare Forge Games created the game after the copyright on Disney’s earliest Mickey Mouse from 1928 short film Steamboat Willie expired on January 1 – but the game’s name and features soon ignited uproar
Fans quickly called out the game for including 88 in the title as the number has been used by Neo-Nazi groups to symbolize the slogan ‘Heil Hitler’ with the letter ‘H’ being the eighth number of the alphabet
‘We are in the process of revising this artwork to clarify the abbreviation, as shown in the image below. Should there still be concerns, we’re open to changing the game’s name.’
A synopsis for the game reads: ‘In the year 1988, what was thought to be an outbreak of vermin in various locations morphed into something far more sinister.
‘Infestation 88 is an episodic, 1-4 player co-op survival horror game in which you and your friends are exterminators called in to treat mysterious infestations caused by twisted versions of classic characters and urban legends.’
The expiration means that Steamboat Willie can now be legally shared, performed, sampled, and more.
Other copyrights expiring on January 1 include Minnie Mouse and Tigger from Winnie the Pooh.
Although this appears to be a long-awaited moment in the entertainment industry, it could lead to media ventures that would possibly become ‘a political lightning rod in pop culture.’
According US copyright law, rights to works like Steamboat Willie expire 95 years after the original publication was released or registered by officials if the projects were released before 1978.
One dark truth behind it all is how seriously that copyright law has been taken in the past and how it’s affected the Mickey Mouse character.
Disney has a long history of battles with the copyright law that have caused problems for cartoonists like Dan O’Neill.
Copyright for Steamboat Willie expired on New Year’s Day and media from the 1928 short film are now available in the US public domain
The expiration means that Steamboat Willie can now be legally shared, performed, sampled, and more
The company sued O’Neill for copyright infringement after the artist published a 1971 comic book that featured Mickie Mouse smuggle drugs and performing oral sex on Minnie Mouse.
O’Neill agreed to not draw Mickey again after an eight-year court battle and told Variety last month that if he draws the character, he will owe Walt Disney ‘a $190,000 fine, $10,000 more for legal fees, and a year in prison.’
It’s even led for Disney to support a bill called the Sony Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.
The act, known as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act, being implemented was what saved Steamboat Willie for being in a public domain 20 years ago.