Germans are outraged over an "attempt to teach history"Â by means of a violent Berlin Wall themed video game, 1378, named after the 1378 kilometers of the wall. Set to release this Sunday, October 3, on the 20th anniversary of the reunification, the controversial game will allow players to take on the role of either an East German refugee or a border guard with the objective of stopping refugees, even by means of shooting unarmed civilians.
Historically accurate as the game may be, does it cross a line? Jens Stober, the game's creator, toldBild daily his intention was to get young people interested in history, and that gaming was one of the best ways to do so. However, the nature of the game may be too violent and too honest, "appealing to the basest human instincts,"Â as criticized by the head of victims of communist violence group, Rainer Wagner. As a refugee, the player must attempt to cross the wall, climbing over fences and barbed wire and avoiding the guards, facing death or arrest. However, the real issue lies in the role as a border guard. The game'sÃƒâ€šÃ‚website itself advertises the game as a dilemma of whether to shoot or to arrest As border guards, the player must stop potential escapees, armed or not (although there is a limit to how many they can kill due to "increased political pressure on East Germany"Â). Wagner says this makes the game far "worse than other shoot ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“em ups because normally in such games, one shoots at armed enemies here, it is unarmed civilians."Â Wagner called the game a "further contribution to the brutalization and the breaking down of society's inhibitions under the cover of historical reappraisal."Â
What do you think, readers? The game is attempting to show historical fact, and violent crimes of this nature did happen in real life at the Berlin Wall. Furthermore, children and teens potentially do follow games much more than historical videos or readings, and could be used as tools for teaching. However, the violence in the game should probably not be marketed at youngsters to begin with, and players may not take the game for its historical value but rather just continue with the game objectives, believing that it is okay to shoot the unarmed if it adheres to a job. For Americans, for example, this could lead to disastrous desensitization in regards to our own border issues I don't think people here would be okay with a game about crossing the Mexican border (or maybe they would I'm just speculating!). As for Germany, clearly, they are not okay with it either.