1. Why Smash MAGA?!
Smash MAGA! is an unapologetically antifascist smash-and-run that depicts a dystopian world ravaged by the Trump Virus, a fascist plague infecting the masses, causing adherents to become violent zombies willing to inflict hate-filled violence upon the people.
#SmashMaga is not a game: it is a call to action in support of the movement to stop the rise of fascism before it is too late. There are anti-vax chuds, proud boys, militia, nazis; they are flooding the streets, spreading hate and lies, and the police let it all happen, offering their protection while arresting and brutalizing counter-protesters.
#SmashMagaGame is just practice.
How we got here….
With Trump and MAGA began the resurgence of ultra-right extremism ideas into mainstream discourse. The overton window had been pushed so far to the right that America has been ushered into a new dark age of fake news and alternative facts. The Alt-Right had “red-pilled” normie conservatives and Republicans into embracing hyper-nationalism and open white-supremacy and racist talking points beyond the usual dog whistles. The ranks of extremist groups swelled.
In 2017, this coalesced into the deadly Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, where numerous hate groups descended upon the city, citing free speech as protection for their toxicity and violence. Antiracist activist Heather Heyer lost her life as one nazi drove his car through a crowd of protesters, hospitalizing many more. This should have been a wake-up call but it turned into a doubling down for the nazis who felt emboldened as Trump said there were “good people on both sides”. It was a sign that the worst was yet to come. One summary of the fascist violence that took place that day from “Looking At History: Looking at Ourselves”:
“On August 11 and 12, 2017, the Unite the Right rally occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia. This was one of the largest, most violent gatherings in the United States in decades. The rally brought together various racist, antisemitic, white nationalist, and white supremacist groups, including the alt-right, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan. Jason Kessler, the rally’s organizer, claimed that the rally’s goal was to save the statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee. During the rally, hundreds of people came to Charlottesville to march and show their antisemitic and racist views. Protesters chanted “you will not replace us,” “Jews will not replace us,” and “blood and soil,” directly echoing the chants and slogans used in Nazi Germany. Many brought full battle gear, including torches, weapons, shields, and flags with Nazi or Confederate insignia. Many openly gave Nazi salutes during the marches. There were numerous fights with counter-protesters throughout the day. The violence ended with a deadly attack on counter-protesters, when a car driven by a rally attendee plowed into a crowd, killing one person and injuring nineteen others. The Virginia governor then declared a state of emergency and the rally disbanded.
Then came COVID-19, the deadly pandemic which ground society to a halt and threatened humanity’s very existence. Lockdowns and regulations were put in place to flatten the curve and keep hospitals from being flooded with COVID-19 patients. People stopped going to work and quarantined in their homes to stay alive. Trump however was far more worried about the health of capitalism (and his ego), and rallied his base to revolt against the “tyranny” of science-based health regulations. He knew about the deadly nature of the virus as early as February 2020, but neglected to inform people for months “to avoid panic”. When people started dying and hospital’s started filling up, Trump minimized the harm and risk and railed against safety measures recommended by health officials, even in his own government. He made masks a culture war issue, effectively risking the lives of his constituency through distrust of the media, creating a dark-age effect, where his supporters’ only source of information were his speeches and echo chambers carefully curated by Q cultists, conspiracy theorists and fascist grifters, eager to exploit the brainwashed Trump supporters for their own hateful agendas.
The magnitude of death for which Trump’s COVID-19 policies are responsible for surpassed all other countries on earth – over half a million died on Trump’s watch in the first year of the pandemic. Nevertheless, he continued to hold superspreader events where the maskless masses were fed disinformation and told not to trust experts or “Fake News”. He made his base more and more ignorant and intolerant, revved up a culture war and blamed China, weaponizing xenophobia, effectively creating a wave of anti-Asian violence.
When vaccines that demonstrably reduced the risks of the virus became available, bringing the country closer to a modicum of normality, anti-maskers and COVID-19 conspiracy theorists spread disinformation that slowed the rollout, further risking everyone’s livelihood and giving the virus time to mutate into the more dangerous Delta variant.
Then, George Floyd was brutally murdered by Minneapolis Police, and the ground shifted again. Although the racist violence against Black folk and other people of color is systemic by way of police and prisons and is nothing new in the USA, Floyd’s horrific murder was filmed on camera and viewed all over the world. It was a breaking point – people could not sit by and watch these racist murders occur over and over again. It sparked unprecedented waves of Black Lives Matter protests during a fiery summer and became the largest movement for civil rights in US history. Unfortunately, the police killings did not slow down, as Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain created further outrage which sparked rioting and looting. The message protesters sent was: if you kill us, we shut shit down. The movement for Black lives rightfully ruptured the pillars of racist American society, as protests became ubiquitous throughout the country: even in smaller towns, people came out where they never have before.
Predictably, Trump would not stand for any of this. Labeling the protesters terrorists and traitors, he called for armies of cops to dominate the streets and suppress the social movement. The effect of Trump’s rhetoric gave a green light for the police to inflict violence and make blanket arrests upon protesters, once again putting the inherently racist authoritarian nature of the USA on full display all over the world.
Trump’s condemnation of BLM protesters as un-American and as criminal agitators instilled classic racist fear into his supporters, who were made to believe their very way of life was under attack. Many of them had never heard of, had any contact with, or read any writings by anyone involved with BLM or Antifa, but were very willing to believe the lies out of fear and inundation of cold-war era anti-communist propaganda along with classic reactionary racism in the form of the Blue Lives Matter ‘movement’. They began holding rallies and called for a return to “Law and Order”, a tired, played-out racist trope used to justify violence against people of color.
After losing the election, Trump and his minions began the coup in real-time. The mechanisms had already been in place: he stacked the Supreme Court, fought against absentee and mail-in ballots during a pandemic, astroturfed the Stop the Steal ‘movement’ to mobilize the masses, and called upon the Proud Boys and other violent bootboys of white supremacy to “stand by” to stomp out any opposition. And when he refused to accept the fact that he lost the 2020 election by 8 million votes, Trump whipped up his base into a fascist frenzy, calling for the overturning of the results, terrifying the world.
Then Trump personally called for a “wild protest” on January 6th, the day of the certification of the electoral votes. Many of his followers believed this constitutional process was the last opportunity to prevent Biden from taking office. The night before, hundreds of Proud Boys marauded through downtown DC, as they had in previous large MAGA rallies, and brutally attacked random people, anyone they thought was not part of their movement. The next day at the rally itself, Trump told the crowds to “fight like hell, or you’re not going to have a country anymore”. And fight they did. They forced their way into the capitol with all kinds of weapons – guns, bear mace, bats, pipe bombs, flags, strobe lights, fire extinguishers, barricades, stolen shields and bare fists. Hundreds were seriously injured, multiple capitol police died as a result, and even one Trump supporter was trampled to death … while carrying a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag.
Trump was impeached for inciting the riots, but the Republican-dominated senate voted against finding him guilty. Many of these senators themselves touted the Big Lie and voted against the certification, even immediately after the insurrection. A stark rift in the GOP occurred – Trump Loyalists began calling those that had not supported the Trump coup “RINOs”, or “Republicans In Name Only”. The party, like zombies, began eating each other.
To this day, half of Republicans still believe that Trump is the actual president. Despite their many contradictions – many MAGAs actually doubled down and embraced the day’s events while simultaneously believing that it was actually an orchestrated Antifa plot – they now have a shared in-group experience with which to recruit from. Even though the vast majority of arrests from that day has resulted in relatively light sentences (especially compared to the brutal repression that the Black Lives Matter movement endured), the MAGAs have developed a martyrdom complex and the perception of being victimized. Even though they cry about how their free speech is supposedly being violated because many could no longer spread their hate on social media, their rallies are everywhere: MAGA, Proud Boys, Blue Lives Matter. Anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers. They are invading school board meetings and disrupting hospitals: hate crimes are on the rise. They are becoming more emboldened and desperate.
The fascist threat is not going away unless people organize to stop it. End the Trump Zombie apocalypse!
2. How To #SmashMaga: Practice for Antifascist Action.
Masking the Fascists
Antifascism is about community self-defense, and in pandemic times, nothing has become more of a symbol for health and protection than the simple mask. It is not a coincidence that the same fascist Proud Boys who stormed the capitol are also the ones who fight so hard against basic science-based health regulations against this deadly virus. Their worldview embraces individual freedoms and privileges over the collective well-being. This is why the weapon of choice in Smash MAGA! is the Mask Gun – Keep Us Safe and beat back the hordes with PPE!
Three Way Fight
Antifascists also fight against the systemic and racialized violence of capitalism and the state. Even under Neoliberal governments and politicians, like Biden, we must continue to fight for liberation. People face immeasurable economic and social stress – this is normalized and acceptable violence in this burning, dying paradigm of capitalism. When people rise up against these injustices, they are put up against the Police, the defenders of the status-quo, the protectors of the rich and their spoils, and the enforcers of the racialized hierarchy. It is the police who arrest and murder us, it is they who always fight alongside the fascists against the people. These are tougher enemies to subdue: in Smash MAGA! you must use bricks and at times even molotovs in the struggle for liberation against the police as well as the fascists.
Solidarity, Comrades, and Life
“You can kill a revolutionary but you can never kill the revolution.” – Chairman Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party
The community is the lifeblood of the movement. While playing Smash MAGA!, you will meet comrades along the way and rally along with them in the struggle. Once your character runs out of life, your comrades got your back: when one falls, another rises up. If no more comrades are around when you succumb to the maws of the MAGA hordes, the Trump Virus wins and the world falls into a fascist dark age.
We wanted to encourage a style of gameplay in which you look out for others in the struggle, as solidarity is the key to victory, both in reality and Smash MAGA! alike. There are many actions in which comrades could use some backup, such as supporting striking workers, or joining an anti-prison noise demo, and if you join them on these actions, they will follow you to the next action in solidarity! Lone Wolf style of playing, just like real life, is not likely to yield the best results, and we wanted to reflect that in Smash MAGA! There is safety in numbers, so when you show up or leave from an action, make sure you go with your comrades / affinity group / cadre / network. Comrades look out for each other – don’t leave them behind!
This is a unique moment – an unprecedented uprising in which activists are ready to take to streets to demand justice. In Smash MAGA!, this is represented by “Plazas” which function as rallying points in which comrades periodically appear, ready to get down!
Many realized during the pandemic that the government is not interested in the plights that everyday people undergo – they would rather bail out corporations and protect landlord’s rights to collect rent checks. This is where many realized that We Are All We Have, and a surge of Mutual Aid organizations stepped up to do the work to ensure that the community can survive / thrive in these dark times, and beyond. This is how we are to survive the fall of capitalism – and a model for how we build a new world!
In Smash MAGA!, this anarchist idea comes into play as Mutual Aid tables, where antifascists can meet to share some food, coffee, supplies, and meet other comrades. Mutual Aid tables also function as locations to redistribute the expropriated spoils of capitalist excess from looted bourgeois corporate shops. Consider it reparations. Remember, it’s not cool to loot from the community, so leave Black + POC owned and small businesses alone!
Real-Life Call to Action
The design of the game are depictions of actual antifascist flashpoints occurring over the past year. In the first level, zombie conspiracists attack a hospital to disrupt the activities of nurses and doctors treating COVID-19 patients. This has happened on numerous occasions, as these antimaskers and anti-vaxxers frequently hold rallies outside of health facilities, even going as far as attacking cancer patients and interrupting COVID-19 test sites. This current wave of anti-health aggression and spreading of covid disinformation is far more deadlier than it seems, as the lies they tell are disrupting vaccination efforts, risking the livelihood of themselves and everyone around them.
The second level explores the themes of free speech, taking place in a college campus where a fictional fascist is holding a rally. The fash boss is a stand-in for various alt-right mouthpieces like Milo Yiannopolis, Nick Fuentes, Matt Gaetz, Andy Ngo, Tucker Carlson, and others. We wanted to show how allowing fascists a platform in which to spread hate further legitimizes their ideas and emboldens their supporters to continue taking space to express such vitriol. When their ideas are this toxic and hateful, the realm of debate ceases being a useful tactic: to engage in debate presupposes that both sides possibly have some merit to their ideas, and it is for the audience to decide which is correct. This is a false presupposition, as there are no merits to alternative facts or fascist ideologies, these are ideas which lead directly to hate crimes and racist violence, as some of the greatest atrocities in history are clear evidence of this. These fascists are so far gone and so fully brainwashed by toxic Trump nationalism and Q propaganda that they are not interested in debate or discussion in a true sense, they just want to yell and force their ideas onto others. They debate in bad-faith, and as history has shown, it is far more common for them to become aggressive or violent than for any meaningful conversation or advancement in understanding to occur.
When the time for debate is clearly over, it is the duty of antifascists to confront, disrupt, dox, deplatform, and otherwise use a diversity of tactics to make fascist activities and organizing as unpleasant and untenable for them as possible, lest the fash spread and grow until they seize power and it is too late. We need to make it as difficult as possible for them when they try to rally: we can’t let them gain any more ground. As the Anti-Racist Action adage goes: “We Go Where They Go – Never Let Them Take The Streets!”
The third level centers the “People’s Autonomous Zone” (PAZ), a shout out to the CHAZ / CHOP experiment in Seattle, where the city became known as an “Anarchist Jurisdiction”, with entire blocks blocked off in a continuous Black Lives Matter protest. The space became a place for the project of mutual aid and solidarity to flourish. Police attack the protesters in a series of raids, fighting alongside the MAGA zombies, and your mission is to defend the space, and later hold a demonstration outside the police station where arrested protesters are held. There is also a lot of looting to be done in this level!
For the fourth and final level, we depicted the January 6 Capitol Hill Riots as the climax of the game, because no event in recent history can be said to be a greater culmination of the white supremacist MAGA violence then the events on that day. Fascist rioters, many of whom were police and military, stormed the capitol waving Confederate flags and openly called for killing members of congress and even Mike Pence. The spectacle truly appeared as a zombie apocalypse: a flood of craven, brainwashed chud ‘patriots’ attacking the police and the country they claim to love in a stunning display of irony that will be regarded throughout history as the culmination of the rise of fascism under Trump’s America.
We wanted to end the game with an epic showdown in the senate chamber between antifa and the most salient and memorable rioter of the MAGA hordes that day – the QAnon Shaman. When people saw this horned clown on the senate floor taking selfies, pretty much everybody whose politics are left of a piece of bread wanted to slap a mask on this fool. And in Smash MAGA!, you can!
Although we depict an antifascist crew entering the capitol in Smash MAGA!, it is a widely-debunked conspiracy theory that “it was antifa” that was behind it all. In actuality the January 6 coup attempt was openly planned and attended by known MAGA fanatics and white supremacists who arrogantly incriminated themselves in social media posts. But when their anti-democratic, hateful crimes were laid bare for the entire world to see, many of them (especially those in the Trump administration and right-wing media) did not want to take responsibility for what they had done, did not want to admit that their own people were capable of the violence of that day, and instead chose to blame the convenient bogeyman “antifa”.
We believe that recreating this historic scene in game form – the first video game to have done so – helps immortalize and put into proper context the gravity of this moment and try to reimagine that it all could have been prevented if people had took the fascist threat seriously and had mobilized to stop them. Also, we wanted to troll the RWers!
We are anticipating releasing an extra level, representing the MAGA movement in the fallout of the coup and Trump’s exit from office. This level will take place in MarS-O-Lago, and will have new surprise features with an otherworldly twist…
3. What Can We Do to End Fascism?
For those that have never participated in antifascist action, it is important to know how it is quite different than other forms of activism. As when entering all new terrain, look to those who are already doing antifascist work to find out where your interests and talents lie. Find those around you who share your beliefs and causes, and meet with them and brainstorm. Look at how hate groups are organizing in your area, who are they and what they are doing? Finding them is not hard – fascism, as previously stated, was mainstreamed by Trump and MAGA still remains an active force in the country right now. Many antifascist activities involve monitoring far-right activity, noting who the groups are that are giving space to fascists, documenting (doxing) these groups or individuals, and organizing with others to disrupt their activities,
The risks and dangers antifascists face is oftentimes greater than that of other forms of activism. We are talking about confronting the worst people on the planet, racists and transphobes whose violence is very serious and has at times become deadly. For this reason Operation Security (OPSEC) must be carefully considered, one’s anonymity must be kept as secure as possible, plans must be made carefully on the streets and on the internet. Understand how to use VPN and TOR, develop aliases and cover up identifiable features during actions (black bloc). Never cross over real-world personal information to your online handles. Don’t talk about anything illegal to people who do not need to know – don’t brag. Never talk to the pigs! It is important to understand that there is the possibility of legal repression from the state. Unfortunately, many comrades have been arrested and spent time in prison defending their communities from the fash. Knowing the risks involved and accepting the potential consequences of your actions are essential precursors to your involvement in this work. But also know that antifascists are engaged in anti-prison struggles and do much to support our incarcerated comrades and all others trapped in the web of the prison industrial complex. The movement has your back!
We hope this brief introduction will spark your interest and involvement in everyday anti-fascism. If you want to learn more, please check out these resources!