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'Death Strip' Game Sparks Controversy in Germany

gzipped_tar (1151931) writes | about 4 years ago

First Person Shooters (Games) 0

gzipped_tar (1151931) writes "A new computer game where players assume the roles of border guards and shoot people trying to escape from communist East Germany has unleashed a storm of controversy in Germany. The game's creator says he wanted to teach young people about history, but he has been accused of glorifying violence.

The name of the multi-player FPS game, "1,378 (kilometers)", was inspired by the length of the border between East and West Germany. Players choose between the roles of the border guards or would-be escapees: the escapee only has one goal — to get over the wall, but the border guard has more options, and can shoot or capture the escapee. He can also swap sides and try to clamber over the border defenses himself. By choosing to play the boarder guard and kill the escapee, the player would won an in-game medal from the government of East Germany. But then the guard would time-travel forward to the year 2000, where he would have to stand trial.

Jens Stober, 23, designed the game as a media art student at the University of Design, Media and Arts in Karlsruhe. He said that his intention was to teach young people about German history. "In the game, you ask yourself: 'What would I do?'" explained Stober. "You may come to the conclusion that you would not shoot at your fellow countrymen and women." But others disagree. "Basically you are just picking off people, as if you were shooting rabbits," said Axel Klausmeier, director of the Berlin Wall Foundation. Hubertus Knabe, head of the Berlin-Hohenschoenhausen Memorial to the victims of the Stasi secret police, has even filed criminal charges. He wants the Berlin public prosecutor to investigate whether the game glorifies violence. Rainer Wagner, from former East Germany, said it was like a punch in the face. "It feels like I'm being shot at again, emotionally," said Wagner, who was arrested by border guards during his escape attempt.

Initially, Stober's university and Professor Michael Bielicky, who had supervised Stober's work, defended the student. However, on Thursday a university spokesman said that the game will not be released on Sunday, the anniversary of German reunification, after all. Instead, the release is being postponed until December."

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