Somewhat understandably, given the fact he's Jewish, Rabbi Micah Kelber has always had a few issues with Nazis. Until, that is, he played Call of Duty: World at War.
Writing for the Jewish newspaper/website Forward, Kelber says that WaW's in-your-face moral choices (which you get quite often in the Soviet missions) do more than just give you a break from the "kill everyone in sight" routine. They help you explore the morality of war, they help make war a more "visceral experience" for Jews. And they help cure a man of his fear of Nazis.
How so? Kelber explains:
The surprising benefit of the game was that throughout my entire life, since sneaking into the synagogue library with David Yagobian and paging through a book of Nazi medical experiments, I have had nightmares about Nazis. Jewish summer camp didn't help. In games like "Call of Duty," you get unlimited lives; you keep playing the game until you are victorious. It's a safe place. When your character dies, you may have to go back to a checkpoint, but this is simply inconvenient, never tragic or final. You will always have another chance to kill your demons.
One morning, I woke up extremely aware that I had just had a Nazi dream. No surprise, given that I wrote this review and played the game late into the night. But I was shocked that it did not scare me as it would have done in the past: The back of my neck was dry. The game had subconsciously flipped a switch. Although clearly there are still very real threats to Jews around the world, the feeling that Nazis were a threat to my existence was created by teachers and rabbis, rightly making sure that I knew my history. In truth, that specific anxiety was not real, but virtual. And I could vanquish it virtually, as well.
Just when you thought you'd heard and seen everything you think you can about a game/genre, along comes something that casts it in an entirely new light.