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Tuesday, 05 October 2010 13:50

German student in hot water over shoot-em-up

Written by Nick Farell
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Cold War game too soon
A student game developer in Germany is in hot water after releasing a shoot-em-up set in the Cold War.

Jens Stober, a 23-year-old student at the University of Design, Media and Arts in Karlsruhe, Germany, has created a game called "1378 (km)" which is about the wall which  divided East Germany from West Germany. You get to play either an East German trying to escape the country by crossing the area known as the "death strip" or play as a guard shooting escapees.

Stober said the games idea was to teach young, tech-savvy Germans about their country's past. He said that becoming an East German escapee or border guard enables players to identify with these figures.

But when Stober unveiled "1378 (km)" last week, the game caused a massive public uproar. Rainer Wagner, who tried to escape from East Germany as a teenager, told Spiegel Online that it was like a punch in the face. "It feels like I'm being shot at again, emotionally," said Wagner. Politicians have called the game "macabre and scandalous," as well as "tasteless and stupid."

University officials have stood behind Stober's game and its ability to work as a teaching tool. Michael Bielicky, a professor who supervised Stober on the project, told Spiegel Online, "Computer games are the ideal medium to reach the younger generation."

Bear in mind that no one who has objected to the game has ever seen it. Those who play guards do not have to shoot escapees, they can also arrest them or even join them in their flight. Those that do shoot the escapees find themselves transported to the future and to a court trial.

Nick Farell

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