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The Disturbing Reason Why The Mickey Mouse Horror Game Was Renamed

The saga of Mickey Mouse in the public domain just keeps getting weirder. Immediately after "Steamboat Willie" (the earliest depiction of Mickey and Minnie Mouse on film) entered the public domain, a number of projects utilizing the Disney mascot were announced, most of them horror-themed. One such project was called "Infestation 88," which is decidedly not for kids. Developed by Nightmare Forge Games, the title sees a team of exterminators contending with an attack from giant creatures, with Mickey Mouse being among the monsters in the game. The game was met with almost immediate backlash, and not just because of its particular use of a children's character. Some saw the game's title and content as a series of references to Nazism.

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As pointed out by many gamers on social media, the number "88" is frequently used as code among neo-Nazis. The game's references to exterminating vermin and using gas — not to mention the presence of what appears to be a World War 2-specific gun — led many onlookers to accuse the developers of packing thinly-veiled racist dogwhistles into the upcoming game. Things only got worse when alleged screenshots from Nightmare Forge's Discord server began popping up on X (formerly Twitter), showing fans of the upcoming game engaging in racist rhetoric and posting full-on slurs in the chat. The ensuing backlash has led Nightmare Forge Games to rename the game and denounce the behavior of some of its fans.

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NIghtmare Forge responds to Infestation 88 controversy

Nightmare Forge has since addressed the controversy, clamping down on the hate speech in its Discord server and releasing a statement regarding the name of its new horror game: ""Unfortunately, when announcing the game, we were unaware of the additional implications associated with the number 88," Nightmare Forge explained to Inverse. "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. We are in the process of revising the game's name, which we'll be posting about from our Twitter once finalized." The developer also denied having any Neo-Nazi ties whatsoever.

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Since this statement was released, Nightmare Forge has also updated the Steam page for the upcoming game to reflect its new name. The title is now "Infestation: Origins," which seems to imply that the developer has more than one installment in this new IP planned. 

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