Upcoming fantasy video game Sex With Stalin, from U.S. developer Valve and marketed by its global game distributor Steam, has raised red flags for Russian communists.
The game invites players to enter a time machine and go back to early Soviet times in a bid to change history by seducing the pipe-smoking, mustachioed Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
But Russian communists, who nearly three decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union retain a significant presence in the country’s legislature, are failing to see the funny side of the game, which is due for release Oct. 10.
Maxim Suraikin, head of the Communists of Russia party, dubbed the game’s developers “insane” and said it should be banned. Talking to state-owned radio station Govorit Moskva, Surakin said: “This has to be banned, no question. The title itself already sounds outrageous and perverted.”
Russia’s more mainstream Communist Party, which counts 43 members of parliament in the 450-seat lower house, the Duma, said authorities should investigate the game to ensure it did not breach the country’s strict laws on extremism and incitement. “This is revolting,” Olga Alimova, a communist legislator in the Duma, was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency, adding that the people who came up with the idea for the game must be clinically insane and should be treated by doctors.
Sex With Stalin, which is aimed at single players, uses animated images of the Soviet leader in various stages of undress, different seductive positions and locations to attract players to purchase the game. Playing on the game’s Russian theme, the developers use an accented voiceover in broken English as part of their pitch, inviting players to “show that mustache guy what real love is!”
The release of the game comes at a time when Stalin’s popularity in Russia is reaching new post-Soviet heights. The former dictator, who died in 1953, regularly tops popularity polls for characters from Russian history. Over the last few years, a number of new Stalin statues have been erected around the country, most recently in the city of Kirov, despite protests from those whose relatives fell victims to Stalin’s purges. This weekend, a celebration devoted to Stalin was held in Novosibirsk, one of Russia’s largest cities.
Authorities in Russia and other post-Soviet countries remain very touchy about the Stalin era. Last year, Armando Iannucci’s farce Death of Stalin was banned in Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan after failing to amuse film censors.