Cybernetic irony: racial humour from mecha-Hitler to nuclear Gandhi

Darshana Jayemanne, Cameron Kunzelman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

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This chapter investigates relations between race and humour in digital games. Registering these complexities, we then focus on irony with particular focus on ‘Nuclear Gandhi’: the widespread gamer meme that an overflow error in Civilization caused Gandhi to appear as a hyper-aggressive character which, ironically, clashed with the historical record from which the game drew design and aesthetic legitimacy. However, Civilization eminence Sid Meier has recently stated that this is false: the humorous Nuclear Gandhi is in fact a complex entanglement of technical, social, and cultural factors. Drawing on Bhabha’s discussion of ‘sly civility’, we theorise Nuclear Gandhi as ‘cybernetic irony’ in which the collective element of humour is mediated by techno-racial claims to objectivity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVideo games and comedy
EditorsKrista Bonello Rutter Giappone, Tomasz Z. Majkowski, Jaroslav Švelch
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783030883386
ISBN (Print)9783030883379, 9783030883409, 9783030883393
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2022

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Comedy
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2731-4332
ISSN (Electronic)2731-4340


  • Irony
  • Cybernetic
  • Civilisation
  • Sid Meier
  • Homi Bhabha
  • Sly civility
  • Race
  • Humor


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