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Fascist-punching indie game is a cathartic way to spend Holocaust Remembrance Day

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Handväska! is a first “purse-on” shooter for a good cause

Ramsey Nasser/Jane Friedhoff via Polygon

Jan. 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, when people around the world memorialize those lost during Nazi Germany’s efforts to purge minority and other groups from Europe during World War II. A new game from designers Ramsey Nasser and Jane Friedhoff does it in a unique way: by letting players swing a purse at a group of fascists.

The PC game, Handväska!, launched earlier today on Nasser’s itch.io page. It’s an incredibly simplistic game, with blocky approximations of neo-Nazis standing motionless in a crowd as the player walks toward them, twirling bag in hand. A countdown clock kicks off as soon as the bag makes first contact with one of the dead-eyed fascists, and the goal is to knock out as many as possible within 15 seconds.

Despite how basic it is, Handväska! is a surprising amount of fun. Perhaps it’s because of its contemporary relevance, which extends beyond its Holocaust Remembrance Day release. The game is inspired by a classic 1985 photograph that has recently come back into the spotlight. Seen below, it captures Danuta Danielsson, a Swedish woman of Polish-Jewish origin who took aim at an unsuspecting neo-Nazi.

“A Woman Hitting a Neo-Nazi With Her Handbag,” the viral photo from 1985 that inspired the game.
Hans Runesson

Other works have taken their inspiration from the photograph. A Swedish sculptor created a miniature version of it in 2014, although plans to create a life-size one have stalled.

At a time when many Americans are concerned about the ideological movement potentially making it into the White House, Handväska! may be an easy way for people to let out some steam. The download is available for a donation of the player’s choice, with all proceeds going to the Southern Poverty Law Center. (The developers suggest $3 for the game.)