Making a snide reference to one of history’s most famous genocidal regimes is distasteful even for an irreverent comedy web series. But that’s kind of the point: pretty much every episode of the much-loved Zero Punctuation review show contains at least one joke we couldn’t reprint in PCWorld. Basing an entire company around said joke isn’t just distasteful, it’s actively damaging to a brand. And yet the “Glorious PC Gaming Race” did just that since its founding in 2014. As of yesterday, the company will simply be called “Glorious,” a far less cringe-inducing moniker and a long-overdue change. It’s about time.
If you haven’t been lurking in the dark corners of the online gaming community for the last decade, here’s the context. “Glorious PC Gaming Master Race” is a phrase coined on an episode of Yahtzee Croshaw’s Zero Punctuation show way back in 2008. (The video is incredibly Not Safe For Work, if you couldn’t take the hint.) Croshaw used a fleeting reference to Nazi racial superiority propaganda to satirize the attitudes of PC gamers who looked down on consoles for their lack of hardware power and control options. It’s worth pointing out that the joke is obviously insulting the people who actually hold that attitude… a fact that whizzed right over the heads of a particularly thick section of the PC gaming world.
An internet meme was born. For 14 years some PC gamers have proudly worn a bit of appropriated Third Reich terminology as a badge of honor, whether or not they actually understood it as such. Croshaw and The Escapist gaming site might share some of the blame, since selling T-shirts based on the meme wasn’t exactly encouraging people to be mature about it.
The Glorious PC Gaming Race company (note the barely tasteful omission of “Master”) founded in 2014 is perhaps the most egregious and oblivious example of the meme. The brand borrowed the yellow color scheme of the original video and some of the more common imagery that had evolved at the time.
It’s one thing to use an insensitive joke in the depths of a Reddit argument. But actually naming a company after it, when you intend to sell real products to real people, is incredibly off-putting. Speaking as a tech writer, I’ve often hesitated to cover and recommend the company’s products because of the brand’s insufferable name and livery. “It’s an internet joke” is a pretty paltry response when someone asks why a gaming keyboard uses an explicitly racial phrase associated with ethnic cleansing. The company has been minimizing the racial aspects of its brand for years, simply shortening a lot of its brand names to Glorious. But it’s still clung to the brand like a wart. If you ask someone what the abbreviation for the popular “GMMK Pro” means, you’re in for an awkward conversation. The online store is still hosted at the terrible URL “PCGamingRace.com.”
As of April 19th, the company is now simply “Glorious,” and it will be phasing out the branding on existing and new products. A better URL is in the works. Showing more awareness than it did eight years ago, Glorious tactfully omitted any reference to racial imagery in its latest press release.
The name was long and pretty weird, but it drew attention within a crowded industry dominated by some massive corporations… As we’ve grown, we’ve also matured, and memes moved on. Our community has expanded to nearly every country in the world, and includes people from all walks of life.
The company’s revised Glorious logo still refers to the Fabio-style long hair imagery of the meme, which could have been dropped for a more clean break from the original juvenile branding. Even so, it’s a sound decision that’s long overdue.
Michael is a former graphic designer who's been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.