A long-awaited German videogame pitting East German fugitives against border guards has proved immensely popular despite being condemned as “utterly inappropriate” and “insensitive” by a victims’ group.
Demand for the game brought down servers following its release during the weekend, a spokesperson for the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, where the game was developed, said Tuesday.
The game — called 1378(km) for the length of the former border between East and West Germany — requires players to either shoot at fugitives fleeing the East or be the fugitives crossing the border.
Rainer Wagner, head of the Association for Victims of Communist Tyranny (UOKG), said the game trivializes the trauma and suffering of those who tried to escape East Germany.
“It is utterly inappropriate to ignore the history and fate of those who died or were arrested,” Wagner told Reuters.
“It used the trauma of the victims and turns it into a violent game,” Wagner added. “The game is simply insensitive.”
Wagner himself has first-hand knowledge of the game’s premise: He was arrested twice attempting to flee East Germany and spent 11/2 years in prison as a teenager for trying to cross East Germany’s interior border.
But Jens Stober, a 24-year-old who created the game as part of his university degree, has said there has been a misunderstanding between the game’s intentions and how it has been perceived.
During the course of the game, border guards are transported forward to the year 2000 and put on trial for any crimes.
“The game was designed to enable a younger generation to access information on recent German history using a medium familiar to them,” Stober wrote in a statement on the game’s website.