Whatever You Do, Don’t Mention The Game About The Berlin Wall

Whatever You Do, Don’t Mention The Game About The Berlin Wall

Jens Stober thought making a game about the Berlin Wall would be a good way to help teach kids about one of the less pleasant aspects of modern German history. Other Germans disagree.

Stober’s game, 1378km (named after the length of the wall), has ticked off a wide variety of Germans, upset at the brutal and violent nature of the game, which lets you play either as a refugee fleeing the East German state or a border guard charged with stopping them.

The refugee part, that’s not too bad, but the border guard side of things lets you shoot those fleeing, even though they’re unarmed civilians. Historically accurate it may be (over 170 civilians were killed trying to get past the wall), but that doesn’t change the fact it strikes a raw nerve with many Germans.

One of those is Rainer Wagner, a man who spent two years in an East German prison following a botched escape attempt and who is now head of an organisation for victims of communist violence. He says the game “appealed to the basest human instincts”, and that “this game…is even worse than other shoot ’em ups because normally in such games, one shoots at armed enemies – here, it is unarmed civilians.”

Whats more, he says the game is a “further contribution to the brutalisation and the breaking down of society’s inhibitions under the cover of historical reappraisal.”

In his defence, Stober says “You can reach young people better through a computer game”.




  • It is interesting how people are always keen on preventing freedom of others if it is not to their personal benefit.

    Taking the converse of Wagners statemens, does he then believe that society can be strengthened by fostering inhabitions, and limiting historical accuracy?

    It sounds like Wagner would of liked it behind the wall…..

  • For me this is all about how well the concept is carried out (wanted to say ‘executed’, but that pun is in terribly poor taste…).

    I can see where the guy who was in East German prison is coming from, but he seems to completely ignore the fact that if it were done very carefully you could make the shooting of the refugee something that many people would not want to do. I know many people who didn’t want to kill any Little Sisters, or fire a shot in MW2’s “No Russian” mission because of the context of the violence – even in virtual form (perhaps especially in game form because game mechanics always encourage you to shoot at the biggest threat), it just felt dishonourable hurting unarmed people because it violated our sense of ‘fair play’.

    Now I’m certainly not saying all players would see it this way, but perhaps it will reach a subset. And the guys take it the other way, who get off on this sort of thing also get off on historical WW2 footage. Does this mean that should all go too?

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