Thursday, May 08, 2008

Holocaust gaming

So, there's a new console game being developed called Imagination is the Only Escape, and the subject is the Holocaust.
I promised in my earlier post that I would talk about this more extensively. I read the info about it in the magazine gamestm and at the time it seemed massively urgent that I write about it. Now, I'm not so sure.
My first reaction upon glancing at the article and seeing the subject matter was wtf? How on earth can you create a game about the Holocaust that is not exploitative and deals with the subject in a sensitive and appropriate manner?
I should add that my experience of gaming comes purely from the boyfriend playing. I don't play. I don't get the appeal and I have no desire to pick up a console. The Wii got me interested for all of 5 minutes, and yeah cow racing and the wii-lypmics are fun but there's no way I'll sit down and game all evening.
So with my limited knowledge I was very concerned that it would be a shoot em up beat em up chicks with huge boobs type thing - no I don't know how this'd fit in either but as I said, I have a very limited experience of games. Then I read the article - always a useful thing to do I find (!).

The game's designer is Luc Bernard. the storyline is comparable to the movie that came out a few years back about a father and son in a concentration camp, the father creates a a game out of it for the boy in order to shield him from the worst of the horrors. It was Italian I think. (And if anyone can tell me the name of the movie I'd be very grateful). In the game a child is taken to the camp and he creates an imaginary world in order to cope with what he's experiencing. Gradually throughout the game reality seeps in more and more. The game also contains facts about the Holocaust, including the one featured in my earlier post.

Here's an article on a Holocaust survivor's reaction to the game.

My thoughts on this? If it can be handled sensitively and appropriately then yeah, make a game out of it. use it to educate people. It'd not been designed for entertainment purposes, which is good. Shock people into realising what happened. I don't think we know enough. I've been to a holding camp in the Czech republic and I've been to Auschwitz. They were vile horrible experiences but people should go. When I read the fact in the magazine I broke down and cried. I do not cry at anything, I am not a weepy person. I read that and cried for half an hour. We had friends over that evening and I had to excuse myself whilst I went upstairs and cried for 40 minutes. If a game can do this then hell yeah, develop it, put it out, increase people's knowledge. And for god's sake don't forget that atrocities are still being committed in the world. Ethnic cleansing is still happening. Genocide is still being carried out on government orders. Use the knowledge people and start making little changes in your home towns, notice the people around you and stand up for what's right. Please.

1 comment:

Devin said...

I believe the name of the movie is "Life is Beautiful," but it's been so long, I can't remember.

By the way, thank you for opening my eyes to this. When I've mentioned it to friends and family members, the reactions have been mixed. My sister (and others) got pissed whereas I took more of the approach you did. Education is an amazing tool.