184: See No Evil

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theklng:

i think you're misunderstanding the semantic behind the words here, either deliberately or no. you're trying to say that the impression will be different if you're playing it as a game rather than to watch it as a movie or read it as a book. insight isn't just a petty thing that you see on the surface when playing a game, that's just impression. it is something that radically changes you, your principles or beliefs. if you cannot understand this, then i will not bother arguing further.

The key point that LB is making is that the interactivity implicit in games means that the experience can be deeply and uniquely affecting. By the logic you seem to be putting forward, reading about Auschwitz is the same as going to Auschwitz, which is obviously not the case.

Terazeal:

reilster:
Well one major advance we need to make is seeing both sides doing terrible things to other humans.

Well, in most games, both sides usually commit mass murder, which is absolutely terrible.

Yes but mass murder in the heat of battle when Its you or him/her, is very different to mass murder when it is innocent/helpless victims. And generally games don't show that helpless deaths on BOTH sides. games are too biased to one side.

this is why old people dont play games

Why would anyone want to buy a videogame based on the holocaust? As many people before have said, a game has to be entertaining. The holocuast is not entertaining.

There are a plethora of films and books on the subjects. If you want to learn about the holocaust (and lets face it, who actually doesn't know about it in this day and age) then pick up a book.

Fragamoo:
Why would anyone want to buy a videogame based on the holocaust? As many people before have said, a game has to be entertaining. The holocuast is not entertaining.

There are a plethora of films and books on the subjects. If you want to learn about the holocaust (and lets face it, who actually doesn't know about it in this day and age) then pick up a book.

Not entertaining, engaging. To use a movie example, Schindler's List is not 'entertaining' but it is very engaging.

As a fan of WWII shooters, my response to this moral dilemma has usually been to ignore it and just keep playing...that's the root of the problem, I think. People don't play games to think; they play to escape from complex thought. The idea of a WWII game that presents the player with complex moral situations is so far removed from the current business model that I wonder if you could find a publisher willing to produce it. And this, mind you, is the same industry that produces things like Ubersoldier, or lets you slaughter people in GTA...but never shows you the holocaust, because that's one of the things that We Just Don't Talk About, Okay? Because we can have sex with prostitutes and then kill them, and we can light people on fire to watch them burn, and we can splatter organs around in slow motion, but god forbid that we even mention the word "Jews" or "Holocaust," because those words don't sell games. I'm always fascinated by the way the mindless violence of GTA attracts controversy and sells millions of copies to preadolescent boys in the process, yet controversy that is actually about something significant is avoided like the plague.

(And there I go, stereotyping GTA fans as preadolescent boys without the brain cells to appreciate anything more intellectual....which is not true at all; but GTA is a classic example of a game that has an opportunity to be about something and fails).

I think that a level in which you wander through a liberated camp, interacting with the hideously emaciated prisoners, could be very interesting...if nothing else, it would show you what you've been fighting for. There's the opportunity for some very powerful imagery here, and it probably would hurt the sales of Call of Duty 6, or any game that's good enough to sell well anyway. More intense stuff--playing as a German family fending off the allies, or trying to escape a camp, or attempting to free prisoners as a German--is probably a long way off, though.

On a related note, what are the implications of playing as a Nazi in online matches? I've done it; I'm sure most people have. And most people would probably dismiss it with some comment like "It's just a game; There have to be two sides; I'm not endorsing Nazis or anything." Which is a valid argument; but I can only guess at the reaction of a holocaust survivor to someone gunning down soldiers as a Nazi. As a privileged American, I can't think of anything that would be analogous to my life--maybe playing as a terrorist trying to hijack a plane and fly it into the twin towers? (Just imagine the reviews for that one). Granted, this situation is a lot more mild. But as the article points out, it does involve distilling the complexities of history into a black and white slaughterfest. Nazis have jointed the ranks of aliens and zombies as beings that can be blown away with impunity. What group is going to join the list next?

thanks for the article :) Its about time somebody brought that up.

These WWII games are more for patriots and unejucated people, example Super Nazis in MOH Air Born. Try being in a fucking trench sticking you head out getting shot in the arm bleeding to death the bittin by on of the mny rats that were as big as cats, and dying alone and unloved away from ome and stuck in an unmarked grave forgotten for the rest of time. That, that is reality, that is war.

I suppose I'm going to do something unique (For me) and ignore previous posts and instead concentrate on the article itself.

I both agree and disagree with the points raised. The initial shock point (That Developers are being lax in not showing the full context of the period they're portraying) tweaked me enough to keep reading into the more meaningful meat of this article, and I suppose that's a good thing to note.

The question of the Holocaust, in relation to World War II is pretty much the same as, well, the entirety of World War I in relation to games, period. Developers have a horribly awkward time justifying including it. It's not "Fun" (while violence being fun is hotly debated I take these games as an excercise in skill, not as a cathartic experience in violence for pleasure) and that's what games, primarily, are. They can also be used to educate and to enlighten, two related but not identical things, but the primary purpose of our games is entertainment.

If we start adding things like the Battle of Hong Kong or the bombing of Dresden never really quite cuts the fun-meter. Call of Duty; to be perfectly honest, has done it's level best to temper our fun with a dose of reality in it's last installment and I'm sure that it's latest one has done a fair bit to bring that home as well; but it tempers it with a lot of exciting gameplay... I guess.

Most gamers don't want to think about civilian casualties, war crimes, genocide and the like when they're on their black and white killfests. See how popular Rainbow Six games are, for instance. We want our friends and our enemies clear-cut, we don't particularely want collateral damage and, for instance in most RTSs, the idea of surrendering units seems absurd to us. Gamers are dog eat dog, and the historical context is really just there for a flavour of accents, weapons and tactics.

After all, when was the last time you had to execute the Spanish Inquisition in Medival: Total War? Or try and stop it for that matter.

fullmetalangel:
I've always had a vision in a WWII game where you stumble upon a Nazi soldier helping Jews escape, and then you have to shoot him.

I'd like to see something as deep as that in these kinds of games, it would probably bring something fresh to a generally stale genre.

why would you be forced to shoot him?

Fragamoo:
Why would anyone want to buy a videogame based on the holocaust? As many people before have said, a game has to be entertaining. The holocuast is not entertaining.

There are a plethora of films and books on the subjects. If you want to learn about the holocaust (and lets face it, who actually doesn't know about it in this day and age) then pick up a book.

games can never be art as long as people believe this.

you'd be surprised how many people don't know about the Holocaust. i doubt you or i really know that much about what happened. how many people really died? why did so many people go along with it? i'm jewish, i was taught about the holocaust growing up, and yet...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiune_Sugihara

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rabe

i had never heard of either of these men until yesterday. no matter how much you think you know about what happened, you can always learn more. and the more we learn, the more we try to understand, the more we remember, the less likely it is to happen again.

why do we even need films, when there's plenty of books on the subject? because films engage you in way books can't. reading "12 million people died" doesn't have the emotional impact of actually watching an execution or seeing a mass grave or even the survivors.
games too engage us in way movies can't, by giving us an active role in events as they occur. people learn in different ways; some people learn best by listening, some learn by seeing...and some learn by doing. to borrow the opening quote from One Must Live Through It:

To know what the end of the world is like one must live through it. - The Atomic Age Opens

the same is true of any significant event in history. if a game brings us closer to living through it, then by all means i think it should be made.

There's not much I could add about Nazis, but they sure had fantastic taste in uniforms.

I actually don't play ANY historically based FPS for this reason: I feel that it demeans the sacrifice made by those involved, and downplays the horrors of actually being at war.

Bad shit happens when you ask large groups of people to kill one another. To put it in a videogame and make it play is just something I don't want to be a part of.

But that's how I vote; with my $. If other people want to play WW2, or Desert Storm, or Civil War shooters, great.

I understand the point your bringing because the same happened to me once, it has a different ending but whatever

I was home for the summer from college and I brought my PS2 with me and my grandfather (who fought in the Pacific theater in WWII) came over to see me. When he arrived I paused the game, and went to meet him and he asked what I was doing. I told him I was playing Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault or something like that and he asked if it was ok if he could watch and I said ok, not really thinking about it.

And as he sat and watched me play he asked if he could try. I said sure, showed him how, and off he went. A couple minutes later my mom walks in, sees whats happening and asks to talk to me. She told me it wasn't a good idea to let him play because of what happened to him in the actual war (his platoon was ambushed and he was 1 of 4 men who lived) but before she could say anything else my grandfather came over and told my mom it had been great seeing us and had to go.

I didn't really think about for a few months until i heard my grandfather had fallen of his roof and broken his hip, and fractured his leg. So i got to the hospital as soon as I could and my family was there, and after a while he asked to talk to me in private. He told me he remembered when I showed him how to play the game, and how it helped him cope with his pain from the war and he thanked me for that. I didn't understand why for a while but somehow playing that game helped him, and I never knew why.

I hate it when people are trying to present games overly significant in the context of history, culture or lifestyle. Yes, video games are now a part of many people's lives, but condemning games for omitting the Holocaust from WWII FPSs is almost the same as condemning them for too much violent/sexual/racial/whatever content. What people tend to forget, is that these are video games, they are a form of entertainment, aimed to be fun.

Yes, the Holocaust was terrible. My grandmother, who is also Jewish, experienced it first hand, the Nazis made her work in a German factory, and at one time, she almost got executed. It was horrible, it's a pure miracle she lived to tell the tale at all. But I don't think the Holocaust belongs in games.

Call of Duty is a game, and as one, its essentially the same as Dungeons & Dragons, Civilization 4 or that old supermodel Barbie game. These games are presented as they are for a reason. And that reason is being fun. Too much realism is not fun. Just think about it, we are trying to escape reality when we sit down to play a video game, to get our minds off of the real world problems, not to get even more.

Just try to picture Call of Duty with total historical accuracy. First, the game tells you, that you can't exit until you finished all the missions. If you try, your computer gets fried. So it begins. In the first mission, you play as an American soldier James Horner, D-day, you land on the beach of Normandy, and when you step out of the amphibious transport, you get gunned down immediately. Game Over. If you restart, you get gunned down again, without even firing a shot or catching a glimpse of the enemy. In the next try, you try to run to cover but you get blown to chunks. Next you get killed by friendly fire from a guy behind you going batshit insane...etc. In 80% of the time, you don't even get the chance to see battle. When you go from air, 50% of the time your plane gets blown out of the sky before you reach the landing zone, and you go down in flaming bits. But if you manage to jump, either you land on a tree, in a German outpost, in the water, on a roof...or your parachute won't open, either way you get killed 50% of the time even before you get a chance to aim your weapon. In the next mission, you dig yourselves in with six of your fellow soldiers who you managed to find, because you landed far away from the drop zone deep in enemy territory and there is no real hope you find your unit, so you dig in and wait hopelessly for backup, when the artillery shells begin to rain, and you are all killed immediately, but not before you witness all your comrades getting blown to bits screaming in agony. The artillery belonged to your army. In the next mission, you find a concentration camp full of morbidly skinny, weak, suffering men, women and children, crying, begging you for food and water, asking you where their relatives are, while they are stumbling over they fallen comrades' rotting corpses who the Nazis managed to kill before they left the rest of them to their fate after torturing them for months even years. The view is unbearable, every pixel on the screen yells for help, and the game tells you to "proceed to next objective", because there is nothing you can do for them. In the next mission, you play a German civilian Dominik Leiter, you enter the game only to witness a British bombardment destroying you home, killing your wife and child in it, and you barely manage to escape with your life. As you wander the ruins of your hometown, you see your entire life in ruins, mutilated, burned people and debris all around, the injured are screaming for help nowhere to be found and the "liberators" are coming. It's only you, untrained, unarmed, injured, against an entire Allied division, who doesn't think you are a neutral, and the last thing that enters your mind is "why?".

As you finish the game, you have that 1000 yard stare, your soul a burned chunk, the images of death, destruction and suffering forever burnt into your mind, and all you can do is mutter "why?". That's reality. You don't want that in a game. You want Nazi Zombies, you want Mammoth Tanks, you want Quad Damage and Railguns... not reality.

I don't think there would be away to humanize Nazis without making it look like you're defending them. I think that's the main reason no one has done it yet. Any sane person can reason that Nazism is evil and despicable, but people fail to realize that while they had to suspend their humanity at times to believe the things they did, they were still human. Very much so.

I also think portraying them the way we do demeans the significance of WWII in a way. It's easy to have them be faceless, mindless mobs with varying scales of difficulty- it's hard to portray them as people. I think it's easier for people to think of them as non-human as it further justifies their hatred.

Playbahnosh:
I hate it when people are trying to present games overly significant in the context of history, culture or lifestyle. Yes, video games are now a part of many people's lives, but condemning games for omitting the Holocaust from WWII FPSs is almost the same as condemning them for too much violent/sexual/racial/whatever content. What people tend to forget, is that these are video games, they are a form of entertainment, aimed to be fun.

Yes, the Holocaust was terrible. My grandmother, who is also Jewish, experienced it first hand, the Nazis made her work in a German factory, and at one time, she almost got executed. It was horrible, it's a pure miracle she lived to tell the tale at all. But I don't think the Holocaust belongs in games.

What we are in danger of forgetting is that World War II wasn't fun. And when you remove any mention of the Holocaust in order to make it fun, you are doing a disservice to everyone who fought, suffered, and died in that war.

cobra_ky:
What we are in danger of forgetting is that World War II wasn't fun. And when you remove any mention of the Holocaust in order to make it fun, you are doing a disservice to everyone who fought, suffered, and died in that war.

Maybe I wasn't clear in my last post. I didn't mean, that games should depict war as fun. What I mean was, people should be able to tell the difference between video games and reality as in actual history. Yes, in CoD, you can slaughter Nazi zombies, and in Lula you can play a hooker, in Sim City you can be a mayor, in Theme Hospital you can run a medical center. These are games, and have a very vague connection to reality because they are meant to be fun and entertaining. By putting Holocaust in WWII games, you might as well put real realism into other games, but no one asked, that they want to see more child rape, hepatic cancer and African kids dying from extreme poverty in video games.

There is a reason why these things are not in games, and that is, they are video games, advanced versions of little dolls, toy trains and chess boards. Yes, I agree, that the video games of today are influencing kids in many ways, but the answer is not to ruin the fun by making games depict horrifying episodes of human history. The answer is in education. Teach the kids about Holocaust, Apartheid, slavery, hepatic cancer and rape, but leave the games alone as a source of simple fun. Teach the kids to distinguish between CoD and real history, and everyone will be happy.

corroded:
I have played my fair share of World War 2 Shooter, much like any gamer.

I'm all up for a bit of history in games, but even now i think ethnic cleansing is too far. I also don't really see how they could really fit that in to the game. For me, it cannot be handled in a way like Band of Brothers, unless the whole game was in a similar vein of handling things. I feel strongly it cannot be trivialised, and i honestly can't see how it could be done.

nonsense, Instead of attacking a barricaded base you attack a barricaded concentration camp, the prisoners being just background graphics. Or instead of escorting a truck filled with supplies your'e escorting a truck of rescued prisoners, a minor change to graphics and some text.

There is no problem including these things from a technical or game design view, the publishers just don't want to get into to that. And I agree with the OP that in retrospect, that ain't right.

Playbahnosh:

cobra_ky:
What we are in danger of forgetting is that World War II wasn't fun. And when you remove any mention of the Holocaust in order to make it fun, you are doing a disservice to everyone who fought, suffered, and died in that war.

Maybe I wasn't clear in my last post. I didn't mean, that games should depict war as fun. What I mean was, people should be able to tell the difference between video games and reality as in actual history. Yes, in CoD, you can slaughter Nazi zombies, and in Lula you can play a hooker, in Sim City you can be a mayor, in Theme Hospital you can run a medical center. These are games, and have a very vague connection to reality because they are meant to be fun and entertaining. By putting Holocaust in WWII games, you might as well put real realism into other games, but no one asked, that they want to see more child rape, hepatic cancer and African kids dying from extreme poverty in video games.

There is a reason why these things are not in games, and that is, they are video games, advanced versions of little dolls, toy trains and chess boards. Yes, I agree, that the video games of today are influencing kids in many ways, but the answer is not to ruin the fun by making games depict horrifying episodes of human history. The answer is in education. Teach the kids about Holocaust, Apartheid, slavery, hepatic cancer and rape, but leave the games alone as a source of simple fun. Teach the kids to distinguish between CoD and real history, and everyone will be happy.

no, i wasn't clear. i'm not saying every WWII game has to include the Holocaust now. the point i was trying to make is that if someone wrote a book or movie about WWII and didn't address the Holocaust, it wouldn't taken as a serious depiction of the war. i believe games can be an artistic medium equal to the finest film and literature, then it's an issue that can and should be addressed. if you don't want to play it, that's fine. most people don't want to take games seriously, the same way many people wouldn't want to watch schindler's list. but some people would and be better off for it.

basically, it's a worthwhile endeavor is all i'm trying to say.

asiepshtain:

corroded:
I have played my fair share of World War 2 Shooter, much like any gamer.

I'm all up for a bit of history in games, but even now i think ethnic cleansing is too far. I also don't really see how they could really fit that in to the game. For me, it cannot be handled in a way like Band of Brothers, unless the whole game was in a similar vein of handling things. I feel strongly it cannot be trivialised, and i honestly can't see how it could be done.

nonsense, Instead of attacking a barricaded base you attack a barricaded concentration camp, the prisoners being just background graphics. Or instead of escorting a truck filled with supplies your'e escorting a truck of rescued prisoners, a minor change to graphics and some text.

There is no problem including these things from a technical or game design view, the publishers just don't want to get into to that. And I agree with the OP that in retrospect, that ain't right.

making them "just background graphics" would be trivializing their suffering. of course it's technically possible, but you'd need the creative guidance to design it in a way that isn't gratuitous or exploitative.

nilcypher:

Fragamoo:
Why would anyone want to buy a videogame based on the holocaust? As many people before have said, a game has to be entertaining. The holocuast is not entertaining.

There are a plethora of films and books on the subjects. If you want to learn about the holocaust (and lets face it, who actually doesn't know about it in this day and age) then pick up a book.

Not entertaining, engaging. To use a movie example, Schindler's List is not 'entertaining' but it is very engaging.

So basically that boils down to a form of interactive film, in which you could to a certain extent wander around a concentration camp and other locations of the holocaust?

I just fail to see where the actual gameplay would come into it, it would just be like watching a film, only clicking a button to advance the plot from time to time.

cobra_ky:
[quote="Playbahnosh" post="6.83639.1175281"][quote="cobra_ky" post="6.83639.1175122"]
making them "just background graphics" would be trivializing their suffering. of course it's technically possible, but you'd need the creative guidance to design it in a way that isn't gratuitous or exploitative.

I think just ignoring them is much worse. I was just pointing out that including that content into WW2 games was always possible. Still is.

How deeply that content is to the core of the game is a completely different matter. I don't think all WW2 games should be philosophical and social deconstructions of the holocaust. But I agree with the OP that just ignoring this part of the war totally is wrong.

cobra_ky:

fullmetalangel:
I've always had a vision in a WWII game where you stumble upon a Nazi soldier helping Jews escape, and then you have to shoot him.

I'd like to see something as deep as that in these kinds of games, it would probably bring something fresh to a generally stale genre.

why would you be forced to shoot him?

Fragamoo:
Why would anyone want to buy a videogame based on the holocaust? As many people before have said, a game has to be entertaining. The holocuast is not entertaining.

There are a plethora of films and books on the subjects. If you want to learn about the holocaust (and lets face it, who actually doesn't know about it in this day and age) then pick up a book.

games can never be art as long as people believe this.

you'd be surprised how many people don't know about the Holocaust. i doubt you or i really know that much about what happened. how many people really died? why did so many people go along with it? i'm jewish, i was taught about the holocaust growing up, and yet...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiune_Sugihara

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rabe

i had never heard of either of these men until yesterday. no matter how much you think you know about what happened, you can always learn more. and the more we learn, the more we try to understand, the more we remember, the less likely it is to happen again.

why do we even need films, when there's plenty of books on the subject? because films engage you in way books can't. reading "12 million people died" doesn't have the emotional impact of actually watching an execution or seeing a mass grave or even the survivors.
games too engage us in way movies can't, by giving us an active role in events as they occur. people learn in different ways; some people learn best by listening, some learn by seeing...and some learn by doing. to borrow the opening quote from One Must Live Through It:

To know what the end of the world is like one must live through it. - The Atomic Age Opens

the same is true of any significant event in history. if a game brings us closer to living through it, then by all means i think it should be made.

Actually I just finished a 10 week course on the holocaust focusing on the German side of things, so I'm biased in this respect, which I accept.

I think one of the main problems is that as time goes by we are getting more detatched from the holocaust, in the sense that our great grandparents and grandparents who had first hand experience are for the most part no longer around, which means its becoming harder and harder to get a first hand account of the the holocaust.

Despite this, I don't think it will ever be possible to forget the holocaust, because of the massive impact it has had on the world; it is the most publicised genocide in the world.

If I'm playing an FPS, I'm often looking for a fun action game. Incorporating the holocaust in such games is of course possible, and would be interesting. But I can imagine that commercial developers are not eager to incorporate such themes in their games. The indie scene is much more likely to pick this up, I guess.

In adventure games, though, the theme has been addressed: In the book-based game 'I have no mouth and I must scream', for example, a part of the game takes place in a concentration-camp setting. Not a very polished, but still interesting game. Another example is 'Imagination Is The Only Escape' for nintendo DS.

Just as action&comedy WWII-movies coexist with movies such as Schindler's List or the Pianist, I think there's no harm in having an occasional action-packed WWII-FPS, as long as the holocaust theme is covered in other genres (Stealth-based concentration camp RPG?).

asiepshtain:

corroded:
I have played my fair share of World War 2 Shooter, much like any gamer.

I'm all up for a bit of history in games, but even now i think ethnic cleansing is too far. I also don't really see how they could really fit that in to the game. For me, it cannot be handled in a way like Band of Brothers, unless the whole game was in a similar vein of handling things. I feel strongly it cannot be trivialised, and i honestly can't see how it could be done.

nonsense, Instead of attacking a barricaded base you attack a barricaded concentration camp, the prisoners being just background graphics. Or instead of escorting a truck filled with supplies your'e escorting a truck of rescued prisoners, a minor change to graphics and some text.

There is no problem including these things from a technical or game design view, the publishers just don't want to get into to that. And I agree with the OP that in retrospect, that ain't right.

I don't agree. For a start, by the time the camps were starting to get liberated, the Germans had already left them. I don't think you have thought it through properly to be honest, and i really don't see a situation ever where you would have any of the situations you said, it's purely not what would have happened.

As i said, i can't see a way of getting to the topic without doing it a great injustice, making it trivial.

End of, Nazi Germany is considered Evil. Anyone over the age of 14 should know by now that trying to get more land is not considered evil, with all the boundary shifts and whatnot. But those people aren't considered evil. Why are the Germans, then? People tend to find out in good time

Well, for a start, if we are to address the human side of "Nazi" soldiers, we should stop refering to them as such. The German army was by no means composed solely of Nazi supporters. Even more, a lot of "German" soldiers were note Germans at all but rather people drafted in from the occupied territories.

I don't think that a meaningful game about WWII and the holocaust can be best done in a FPS genre. It's the same as expecting a meaningful action blockbuster movie. There are, however, games that treat the WWII rather objectively and without moral judgements. These are mostly simulators and strategy games. They focus on the actual war, and show that either side of the front the basic human emotions such as fear and courage were all the same. Try playing anything from the Il-2 series or Silent Hunter III if you want to get appreciacion for the opposing military sides of the war. There is no glorification of Nazism to be found in any of the games. As cold as those games are in their rationality, they allow you to paint your own emotions onto them and can therefore be rather engaging.

On the other hand, games actually addressed the issue of war camps (not exactly concentration camps) a long time ago. A classic 8-bit game The Great Escape had more originality than most WWII games today.

After reading this article it instantly reminded me of this comic.

There's a delicate balance that I don't think that any game (and very few other media forms) have previously struck between showing the horror of someone's actions but not losing sight of the humanity of the people involved. A game that could do both would be a huge step toward creating respect for games as an art form.

We spend so much time talking about games as entertainment and making games fun, but if we want the medium to be considered one of the arts -- if we want developers to have the freedom from censorship and a respectful audience to appreciate it -- we have to have someone take the first steps toward creating that sort of paradigm for games. Just because film can be produced as art (everyone knows there are some movies made that just aren't entertaining) doesn't mean that the special effects summer blockbuster extravaganzas won't continue to be made. Allowing the game industry to make better art will help dispel some of the censorship problems we're having, and in turn will allow the industry to make better entertainment.

cobra_ky:
no, i wasn't clear. i'm not saying every WWII game has to include the Holocaust now. the point i was trying to make is that if someone wrote a book or movie about WWII and didn't address the Holocaust, it wouldn't taken as a serious depiction of the war. i believe games can be an artistic medium equal to the finest film and literature, then it's an issue that can and should be addressed. if you don't want to play it, that's fine. most people don't want to take games seriously, the same way many people wouldn't want to watch schindler's list. but some people would and be better off for it.

basically, it's a worthwhile endeavor is all i'm trying to say.

I agree, games could be a powerful art medium to show such things. The only problem is, video games are in their rebelling teens right now, and not grown up enough to incorporate such ideas, at least not on a major scale. There are indy developers doing games with mature content and hard topics, but games are first and foremost devices of recreation and fun. Board games for example. Show me a commercial war-themed board game that has concentration camps, merciless murdering of civilians or hepatic cancer in it. You'll find none. It's same as you won't find Lego Hitler or Hasbro Slave Camp Creation Kit in a Toys'R'Us. Video games are essentially the same. While there are WWII themed toys, games and model kits on the selves, you won't find no Holocaust there either, or any other topic alike. It's not because people want to omit these or try to conceal real history, it's just because watching or playing with people's suffering is not fun.

Think out of the box for a little.

SBoggart:
I don't think there would be away to humanize Nazis without making it look like you're defending them. I think that's the main reason no one has done it yet.

It has been done, therefor it can be done. Of course there will be those who will miss the point, but seeing the market for Nazi regalia these days that's not necessarily a fault of the game.

I also think portraying them the way we do demeans the significance of WWII in a way. It's easy to have them be faceless, mindless mobs with varying scales of difficulty- it's hard to portray them as people. I think it's easier for people to think of them as non-human as it further justifies their hatred.

That I agree with whole-heartedly. Right now opponents in a video game are in the main clay pigeons, there for the shooting with nothing inside. I admit it's nigh-impossible to do differently in a shooter, but perhaps a FPSRPG or different genre might be able to tap into a bit more depth than the current Hogan's Alley design core.

-- Steve

The fact is that america, was, and is in many respects still an incredibly rascist country. The war of independance was started because of taxes being raised for a war with france, and the emansipation proclomation was an effective method of undermining southern work forces, and accessing, more expendable troops.

WW2 maintains a protected war. The scale of the conflict was and still is on an unpresidented level. It wasnt until later that the possiblity of evil on our side became conceivable. I'm quite possibly wrong, but i don't think there's been a Vietnam game, purely because the morality of both sides in under so much doubt.

I don't play WW games, you're making entertainment out of death on a huge scale. Don't enjoy playing through some of the most traumatising events of real peoples lifes, just to complain that they failed to acknowlege the holocaust. By making WW games alone, they're already cutting into the suffering of millions. Whilst i understand your desire for the recognition of the holocaust, i argue that is simply comes down to profits. Their already exploiting one tragedy, while simply excluding the second, less profitable one.

Very few games utilize or 'discuss' this subject matter; indeed, the black-white morality plays that are typically produced preclude this. Most Nazis-Bad, Americans-Good. . . now go kill without remorse. Of course, this completely ignores that fact that a large number of Germany's armed forces were the Wehrmacht; the majority of whom were non-Nazis soldiers. The Holocaust - if mentioned at all - is little more than a justification for wiping these nameless people. We - as gamers - are supposed to forget that many of these men were just normal people serving their country, without buying into the Nazi ideology.

However, recently, one game has treated this subject matter with empathy and finesse: Valkyria Chronicles. Although set in an alternative Europe, the Empire is clearly Germany and Gallia (the defending nation) is stylized after Holland/Switzerland. In addition to showing the different faces of war, one important plotline deals with the Darcsens, an ancient race likely modeled after the Jews and Gypsies (another race exterminated by the Nazis). Throughout the game many of the characters deal with the prejudices they have against the Darcens; prejudices that run very deep in the Empire. Without giving away too many spoilers, during one mission the player must liberate a concentration camp where Darsens (men, women, and children) are being tortured and used for slave labor. The game writers handle this subject matter skillfully and tactfully, and yet without shirking away from the true horror. In doing so, they create one of the most poignant moments I've experienced as a gamer; one I will never forget.

I suspect that if other designers treated this subject matter with equal respect and diligence, their games would provide gamers with a far deeper experience. There must be something between a moral tirade and embracing ignorance in the sake of entertainment. By finding that balance, I believe we could raise video games from mindless entertainment into thought-provoking material.

As a Jew, I am quite aware of the horrors of the Holocaust. I know that my generation will be the last to actually meet Holocaust survivors and hear their stories. I understand the importance of preserving those stories.

I also recognize that trying to tackle the Holocaust in a video game is a dicey prospect. But it could be done. The article suggested a game wherein you play as a Jewish freedom fighter. That might be too narrow for a whole game. But you could definitely make a game about World War II resistance fighters in general. Similar to Call of Duty, you would fight for various resistance groups, one of which could easily be Jewish partisans. The gameplay might be closer to Metal Gear Solid, with stealth a vital component.

Also, there is one upcoming game that may involve the Holocaust. The FPS "Darkest of Days" involves traveling to historical tragedies to rescue people that weren't supposed to die. The website mentions Pompeii, Antietam, and World War I, but the trailer also includes a 3-second shot of what I am damned sure is a train car headed to a concentration camp. The website says that players will also be able to use futuristic weapons. The prospect of assaulting Auschwitz with a plasma rifle has kept me interested in this game.

While some of the points in this article are convincing, it just simply isn't that easy to make the game industry explore the grey in reality rather than the black and white. When in a video game you push the player into an ocean of grey he mostly drowns. Why? Because most are not interested in exploring all sides, they just want to keep playing. And now mind you that most of the people playing are kids, if a game doesn't keep the kid interested he just won't play it. It is easier to sell the black and white for this very reason. The game industry is an industry after all, more into profit than historical accuracy and mind you that all the recent Call of Duty games, most notably World at War are mostly fictional, the only historical aspect about it is it's WWII setting.

The film industry however is not that limited. Films are obligated to present an interesting story because that's what keeps the audience in the seats. Games can simply have a great gameplay and ditch the story completely and sell more than Tom Hanks's newest movie.

Since the late 90's the film industry has gotten into a place where the studios believe that the constant reminder of why the world is shit and corrupted is appealing for the masses. Fantasy cinema where the good guy wins against the evil man and his regime of poor accuracy when shooting rifles is now considered corny and irrational. All love stories have to begin with tragedy and if they end with tragedy as well they are nominated for an oscar.

Suddenly all action films have an anti-hero character that mostly has a dark past and when the situation comes to bite him in the ass, then he gets up and does something about it. And to this scenario there's two possible outcomes, either he dies at the hands of his enemies or he kills his enemies and is redeemed of his life of being a general asshole to become something left for the viewer's imagination.

Really, I personally am tired of going into the movie theater and be reminded that there's drugs on the street, that prostitution is getting worse, poor people eating from dumpsters outside of restaurants, drug dealers going into nightclubs and killing people or kidnapping. I see that every day on the street and in the news. Movies were an escape for all of us, a place where we could go, watch the hero bring down the villains in action packed scenes, watch the good guy get the girl. Now I just go there to watch the good guys get decimated for trying to do the right thing, see the villains win, watch constant tragedy on the screen. And comedy films transformed into mild porn with few laughs here and there.

Well the film industry is in this tendency, swimming in a grey ocean, constantly reminding us of the screwed up world we live in.

Video games on the other hand retain the black and white, they provide the much needed escape from reality that we need at times. As the player, you ARE the good guy, the bad guys are doing stuff and you must stop them. We get a few cut scenes showing why the villains are bad so as to encourage you to defeat them and you go in and take them down. What is a reality is that WWII games do inspire the kids and the not so kids anymore to simply just go on the web and read up a little about the battle they witness on screen. The voice acting of the people in the game give a little background to what is taking place. I'm not saying all people look this stuff up on the web, but there are those who do.

Video games are an entertainment tool, they are "games" after all. And if talking about the holocaust in video games was something that the developers would profit from, they would have done it a long time ago. But they won't, because as I said it's an industry, and industries are all about the profits.

Good article. I think it brings up legitimate issues, especially to someone like me who believes games have great potential as art form, even if it isnt always utilized. I realize that a game like this would be controversial and probably receive alot of flack in the media, but I personally say its worth it if it means we have a ww2 game that we can be proud of. I'd rather try to defend a game that raises uncomfortable moral situations and sheds light on taboo subject matter, than try to defend a game that gives the current generation a make believe, sugarcoated story that never happened.

Very well written arcticle. Some RTS game like "Company of Heroes" already managed it to get the germans well done. Most of them where "just people like you and me" who ended on the wrong side of the battlefield.

Dont forget thet most of the genozides where done by specialy briefed SS killing-commandos that operated closely behind the frontline.

But, when you make something "simple" and yet insanely expansive like a FPS these days, I would not dare as a company to try to make a Wehrmacht campaign. There are endless traps to get some bad press for your game,but I dont think itīs impossible that some one will it do right some day.

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