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”.