(This entry is presented as a transcript of my informant’s answers during our interview. Interviewer input/clarification is put in brackets for the duration of the interview.)
“It is the uh it’s always hard to call it by something. I guess you could call it “The “Hitler/Jesus Game” ugh that’s such an odd name for it. Some people call it the Hitler Game, some people call it the Jesus Game. Uh basically it’s a uh Wikipedia game. It’s not, obviously the game isn’t on Wikipedia. The game was created by people who use Wikipedia.”
“The goal is to pick something at random or make a list of random things for somebody to pick from and then try to get uh through the hyperlinks on that Wikipedia page to try and get to Jesus or Hitler in as few clicks as possible.
“I play it Jesus or Hitler, some people play it with just Jesus, some people play it with just Hitler, umm but uh it’s a very amusing game. Like, my record is two clicks, I went from pineapples to Hitler in two clicks. Uh on Wikipedia. From Pineapples to Hitler in two clicks. The, I think, the intermediary was actually World War 2. The pineapple industry exploded during the 1940s during World War 2 because uh soldiers needed…see you actually do learn things from this game, um, which is interesting, like you learn random facts that are totally useless but entertaining nonetheless. Uh, but yeah, no, apparently the pineapple industry blossomed during World War 2 so that was an easy click. World War 2 then, straight after, Hitler. So yeah.
“Some people will restrict you by the number of clicks, like you have to get to Jesus or Hitler in six clicks, uh specifically, that’s both the maximum and the minimum, like you have to use that many to get there. Sometimes you’ll have to circle around the topic before you finally enter it. That’s a very challenging way to play that game. Um, the other rules, uh, it’s kinda just decided upon by the person playing the game. It’s a very loosely based rules system that, you know, I kinda came up with with a group of friends in high school. But I mean, other people play it too, so I’m wondering how it was first created. It’s kind of this urban legend, that, uh, all of, you know, my friends happened to know about, I mean, you even know about it and you’re from the east coast, right?
Somebody mentioned it to me, like, we didn’t just invent the game, I heard about the game from a friend of mine, and then we just kind of created the rules out of that. At first it was just, let’s get to Hitler in as few clicks as possible, and then somebody said, uh, somewhere along the line, I don’t remember who, um, ‘maybe we should try doing Jesus. Jesus might be easier, because we were having such a hard time trying to get to Hitler in as small number of clicks’. So that ended up being entertaining.
“Mainly in high school was when I played this. [Was that when you first discovered it, in high school?] Yeah. Generally afterschool, uh I think that was when I first heard about it was afterschool, and uh from occasion to occasion. And you know a random subject would come up or we’d start talking about something and somebody would say ‘hey that was actually, that would be a pretty good word to try on Wikipedia for the Hitler game, uh, yeah’.
“[Would you mind playing a round?] Sure, let’s do it.
“Give me a word. [Let’s just do a random, uh, just random article…so what did we get?] Huntingdonshire Regional College. Okay. And you can play with friends, too, that’s another side detail I forget to mention. Yeah, so, I might need some help. This is really obscure.
“Okay, so let’s see here. Huntingdonshire…Further Education? Or England! England will definitely get us there…if we don’t get something related to World War 2 or Hitler I will be absolutely shocked. Okay. Like the bombings or something.
“(Looking through the England Wikipedia entry) History…[Once you hit a country it’s basically over.] Yeah. Oh my god goes all the way back to the Paleolithic Era. That’s kind of cool. Celtic culture…we’re moving up through the ages guys! Middle Ages, Hundred Years’ War, Late, Modern, and Contemporary. Industrial Revolution, Duke of Wellington, Victorian Era, we’re getting there guys!
“What? This is why we just can’t assume in two clicks. Okay the Blitz!..there’s one that says Winston Churchill, the Allies. Do we go with Churchill or the Allies? Let’s go with the Allies, we’ll have more success with the Allies.
“[Are we allowed to go back? If we need to?] Uh, I don’t go back. We might be able to get Hitler somewhere in here…like if we could get to Germany. (Sigh of frustration) Well I know it could be in here somewhere…After the German Invasion of Poland, Invasion of Poland, we could do…If Hitler isn’t in here…he isn’t, which is just embarrassing, quite frankly. Um, okay. Second World War then.
“No, will we have more success with Second Wolrd War or Axis powers? I’m thinking Second World War thinking of how much of a failure Allies was. Yeah. Okay. Okay. Okay. Collapse of the German Reich, come on now, well there’s Germany. Commanders and Leaders, there’s Adolf Hitler! We’re there.
“We went from the Allies to the Second World War. And before that, let’s see here, that was one, two…three…five clicks. That’s not too bad!”
I originally asked my informant to conduct this interview because the Hitler/Jesus Game just happened to come up in conversation the previous week, and I was intrigued that this person (who grew up on the opposite side of the continent from myself) knew about this game that I also encountered in high school. When interviewing him, I made sure to investigate all the possible differences between our versions of the game, to which I found a surprisingly large amount. For example, my version of the game only used the Hitler Wikipedia page as an end goal, and one always had to start from a random page. In addition, the rule set I used did not allow for the use of Wikipedia pages for countries, cities, or World War II specifically. I was surprised to find my informant’s version to have none of these rules, and instead to be much more of a free experience. It is not necessarily better or worse, though I think it speaks to how we came upon the game. I discovered it by myself online, while my informant developed the game with friends after hearing about the basic ruleset. He also had a much more social version, allowing for input from a group, while the thought of playing the game with other people never crossed my mind. Even with such a simple, silly game, the kind of game that would be spawned by an internet culture that often looks for any kind of distraction from boredom, there can be so much variation to be discovered.