184: See No Evil

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i partially agree, but im mostly inclined to disagree. games are entertainment, the value of entertainment comes from the gameplay and the scenery will enhance the experience. if a game is taking itself seriously, should it have to take all the factors into the scenery, after all dont forget that most games are a form of fantasy, i dont think anyone wants to experience true war, rather the fantasy of war. i dont think games should have any responsibility to immerse players into reality, in the sense of actually putting you through emotional turmoil. in my opinion fantasy imagery, even if it is a severely distorted version of reality should be left alone, i mean i we pop too much of the real world into games, i dont think they would be fun to play, or entertaining at all.

Personally I thought that Relic did an excellent job showing the German side of the conflict in their Company of Heroes expansion. It showed that they weren't just evil, they were people, brothers fighting against who they thought were the 'bad guys'.

EDIT: And with their next expansion, I believe they'll take that idea ever farther.

From what I have read most people comments have been very well taught out and well worded I belive the over whelmingly vast majority of you are missing the point of the article.

He is not asking for gaem alot about saving the jews, he is saying that none of the games even touch upon the subject of the Holocuast.

The WWII shooters have a very stage 3 conventional operation stage feel about them. They make it seem as the point of the game was ato simply kill the Nazi's for no other reason than that they were Nazi's.

Zero Mentions that they were killing, no EXTERMINATING millions of people (no not just jews). For Petes sake they dont even make a referance about they act that they wanted to purify the whole world of none arians, even other whites. The enemies goal isnt even stated in any of the games Ive played, they are just "Thee enemy!" and there for must be killed with out question.

He just wants recodnistion of what actully happend, simple cut scenes depicting what happened would suffice.

World at War turned to enemy into the soulless undead. But guess what 6 million plus people werent killed by santanic minnions, they were killed by thousands of other LIVING people.

While its fine that we go along and start killing Nazi's we need to understand the impact of the situation and what if really ment. And while shoot Lazer at cyborg hitler may sound fun we need to under stand that he was a very real and very fleshy person who manipulated a whole nation that was in a state of disarry to uprise and end up killing millions of people simply on the group that they werent born in the ideal image.

We know it was fought exclusively between uniformed men from opposing nations, as even the battles that take place in cities are completely devoid of civilians. We know that the U.S. and U.K. were the infallible "good guys," that Russia's role was questionable but necessary and that Japan and Germany were immoral nations that had to be defeated at any cost.

All of these assumptions are inaccurate and deserve to be addressed individually, but the one that irks me most is the representation of the Germans as evil without ever mentioning the Holocaust.

First, most of the 'assumptions' that you mention above are accurate, not inaccurate as you claim. The war was primarily fought by uniformed men from opposing nations. The U.S. and the U.K. were the good guys. The governments of Japan and Germany were the bad guys. The 'good guys' alliance with Russia was a questionable but (debatably) necessary evil in order to achieve victory. All of these are reasonable generalizations that can be made from the historical facts, without the assistance of a videogame. The fact that WW2 videogames seem to be conveying these impressions could even be seen as a positive from your point of view. Yes, we all need to realize that evil people exist everywhere and on every side of every issue, but generally these claims are accurate when examined in the greater context.

Second, the Germans and Japanese people weren't evil, their governments and associated ideologies were (as was the Russian government's). It was always the Nazi/Socialist/Communist/Fascist governments, their ideology and the horrors that they wrought upon humanity that were evil, not the nation-people themselves. I've never met anyone who thought otherwise.

Third, the increasing realism and exceptional popularity of WW2 games could even be considered a positive thing, helping to inspire interest in one of the great events of modern time, an event which serves as a valuable learning experience for everyone to learn from.

Fourth, while I welcome increasing realism in videogames to a point, this very community's name conveys the reason I believe most people play videogames: to escape. If you begin demanding broad historical context with detail in all your WW2 games, I think you begin to lose the purpose behind the game itself, which is to have fun. If I'm interested in historical accuracy I know there are many other places where I can go to find it presented in an interesting and entertaining manner without having to mix in fancy gameplay or uneeded drama. I'd prefer the two remain separate to some degree.

To be honest the reason why they don't mention it is because to even mention the Holocaust is considered bad taste. If you focus too much on it you're being morbid, if you just mention it oft-hand you're being casual and if you try anything in-between people seem to think you're making money off a tragedy.

This reminds me of Will Smith, wait hear me out you remember a couple of months ago he said in an interview about good and evil that Hitler didn't wake up twirl his moustache and say he was going to be evil. Suddenly every organisation under the sun was calling for his head because he had the nerve to suggest that perhaps Hitler didn't think he was evil. Same with the movie Downfall people ripped into it for suggesting for a second he might have been; Human?

The thing about the Holocaust is the fact that what happens next always gets forgotten, when Stalin more caught the torch and ran with it. The man's considered an hero of the war but as Monster's go he beats Hitler due to the simple fact anyone who hears about the Holocaust and simply goes ahead and surpasses the total of dead has a unique part of hell reserved for them.

So in short should Video games cover the Holocaust? No not really it's just a medium incapable of detailing the horror. Movies can do it since emotional acting and a narrative really shine forth in dramas and tragedies. A game shouldn't be a movie with interactive bits and in these cases should leave such events up to an art form that can gauge an emotional reaction. It's the same reason you won't see a game about high school shootings or 9/11 because there simply events that a video game can never capture in all it's horror without coming over as insensitive.

Playbahnosh:

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.

well, board games aren't nearly as expressive as video games. there's a necessary amount of abstraction involved when the players have to enforce all the rules. video games, on the other hand, are much more immersive and therefore, i think, more emotionally involving.

i realize the game industry wants to make fun games. i don't fault them for that. but people seem intent on arguing that's it's ok for books and movies to be depressing, informative, and historically accurate; but goddammit absolutely every game has to be fun. people read history books; people watch historical documentaries; aren't there people who'd play historical games?

and you're right, games as a medium probably aren't mature enough to handle something like this yet. but there's nothing wrong with it conceptually, and i think it's worthwhile to discuss.

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.

And in most games that's fine; but you start to enter a moral gray area when the events in the game actually happened. Blowing up aliens is different from blowing up historical human beings. In a way it's kind of disturbing that video games have been able to turn a profit by making the horrors of war into something fun (doesn't stop me from playing them though...)

JakeOfRavenclaw:

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.

And in most games that's fine; but you start to enter a moral gray area when the events in the game actually happened. Blowing up aliens is different from blowing up historical human beings. In a way it's kind of disturbing that video games have been able to turn a profit by making the horrors of war into something fun (doesn't stop me from playing them though...)

True but then it is up to the parents to let the kids know how to differentiate from what is war in a video game and what it is in reality. You can't just replace the parents with just the game teaching the kid what's right and what's wrong. Parents are the ones who should sit down with their kids and tell them what happened and how in a video game the view on a subject can differ greatly from reality. In life you'll live on the gray side, video games allow you to enter a world of black and white, it's one of the few escapes we have left, sure we can introduce a little something to just spark some curiosity in the gamer to just look up what happened and see it for himself but when a game shows you stuff like the holocaust, when you get depressed or it carries a heavy emotional subject it really stops being what it should be: "Fun".

While I think the author brings up many good points, he fails to identify the reasons that such atrocities aren't mentioned in video games. firstly, call of duty; world at war a game, not Schindler's List. the demographic that the developers are targeting don't want to see ghettos and concentration camps. secondly, any game that featured such content would immediately be branded AO, and would hit mainstream audiences anyway.

Striker1246:
While I think the author brings up many good points, he fails to identify the reasons that such atrocities aren't mentioned in video games. firstly, call of duty; world at war a game, not Schindler's List. the demographic that the developers are targeting don't want to see ghettos and concentration camps. secondly, any game that featured such content would immediately be branded AO, and would hit mainstream audiences anyway.

Most probably would be held up by the censors and a big red stamp would read "Too graphic". Loosing every single thing about the holocaust and concentration camps just to be put out. Most people just want to know there was the holocaust, but they don't want to discuss it, it's a sensitive subject, one that's not easy to look at without more than one trying to change the subject immediately.

It seems that a lot of people feel that a historically accurate video game would not be entertaining. Are historically accurate movies not still entertaining? Obviously some of them are a bit tough to swallow (maybe I have a weak stomach but the d-day scene in Saving Private Ryan has ALWAYS been tough for me to sit through). How about a movie like "life is beautiful" or "max and helen"; both historically accurate holocaust movies that are entertaining (yet both not light fare). It could be done.

I don't think the Wii motion controller would be appropriate though ;)

Lanowar:
To be honest the reason why they don't mention it is because to even mention the Holocaust is considered bad taste. If you focus too much on it you're being morbid, if you just mention it oft-hand you're being casual and if you try anything in-between people seem to think you're making money off a tragedy.

This reminds me of Will Smith, wait hear me out you remember a couple of months ago he said in an interview about good and evil that Hitler didn't wake up twirl his moustache and say he was going to be evil. Suddenly every organisation under the sun was calling for his head because he had the nerve to suggest that perhaps Hitler didn't think he was evil. Same with the movie Downfall people ripped into it for suggesting for a second he might have been; Human?

The thing about the Holocaust is the fact that what happens next always gets forgotten, when Stalin more caught the torch and ran with it. The man's considered an hero of the war but as Monster's go he beats Hitler due to the simple fact anyone who hears about the Holocaust and simply goes ahead and surpasses the total of dead has a unique part of hell reserved for them.

So in short should Video games cover the Holocaust? No not really it's just a medium incapable of detailing the horror. Movies can do it since emotional acting and a narrative really shine forth in dramas and tragedies. A game shouldn't be a movie with interactive bits and in these cases should leave such events up to an art form that can gauge an emotional reaction. It's the same reason you won't see a game about high school shootings or 9/11 because there simply events that a video game can never capture in all it's horror without coming over as insensitive.

Bang on. I don't get why the Holocaust gets a special place yet the horrors of Stalin who purposefully starved and slaughtered certain ethnic groups who refused to comply with communism gets glossed over even in the History Community it is glossed over. Anyways if a games wants to portray the horrors the NSDAP committed they sure as shit should show the horrors of Dresden when the allies firebombed it to the ground to kill as many civilians as possible.

cobra_ky:
i realize the game industry wants to make fun games. i don't fault them for that. but people seem intent on arguing that's it's ok for books and movies to be depressing, informative, and historically accurate; but goddammit absolutely every game has to be fun. people read history books; people watch historical documentaries; aren't there people who'd play historical games?

Yes, books and movies already have the depressing, hard, historically accurate stuff, because those mediums are ancient compared to video games. But not just that. The root of these mediums differ greatly, too.

Books were born of written language, and in the first times, books contained historical or other "scientific" data, or...uh...(don't want to pass judgment here) "stuff" like the Bible. Then books started to have more and more fiction in them, stories, fairytales, then came the pulp fiction, novels...etc. The movie was born from photography, and at first photography was about people. The old photos almost every one of them contain people, family photos, profile shots...etc. Then came the time when people started to photograph other things, like scenery, animals or other stuff. These were all living things or real stuff. It came much after this, when people started to use the camera for recreational purposes, and when movies came along, after the first reality based movies, like newsreels, educational reels and stuff like that, then came the recreational movie making about fictional stuff.

But if you look at video games, they never had their basis in reality, so to say. Video games were born from the merging of toys/games and technology. Simply a modernized version of the little toy train and chess boards, made for fun from the beginning, not recording historical and real stuff (at least if you can count Pong as a historical document). That's why is so controversial to put Holocaust or Stalin-Caust or the feeding Christians to the lions stuff into video games, because it's not natural to put these into an inherently fun activity. Yes, maybe someday there will be a mainstream game where you have to escape from a concentration camp or debunk 9/11 from the inside, save Israel from the invading Palestine...etc. But we are not there yet, and probably we will not be for some years at least. That's what I'm saying.

Meshakhad:
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.

I was exited untill i noticed that the trailer was a 10fps slideshow and that it was made by a company that never made anything more complicated then a slot machine. And in the preview, the lead developer admits making several levels historicaly innacurate so players are allowed to mow down hostile timetravels in a toga with an autoshotgun while it's raining fire. FYI: The town was covered by a pyroclastic wave(very deadly dust cloud, most likely dark grey and not glowing orange), making the entire point moot.

In the category of veterans watching us play videogames, a friend of my grandparents(wounded and sent home in 43(tunisia), came to live in europe after the war) once saw me playing the cod5 beta. He looked at the screen for a few minutes , squinted and asked "how many bullets are there in that [some very old jargon for thompson smg that i can't remember]?" i awnsered "40"(which is what cod5 puts in ANY drum or double mag). He then replied "Well, they got one thing correct for once" i asked about it and he said "The springs in the magazine were always so rusted you couldn't get half of the bullets out unless you held it upside down". It's that kind of tiny details that get lost in translation far more often then the holocaust. Important events generate a continous ammount of controversy simply by being existing in our history(this article being another example). Weren't it for that seemingly unimportant conversation, the part of history about the crappy tommy gun magazine springs would have been lost forever when that guy passed away a few months ago. It's that kind of history that needs presvervation the most or otherwise you end up with "1939-1945: germans kill jews, rest of the world kills germans. historians are still speculating on where the german and jewish tribes lived" arround 2691.

Asehujiko:
Weren't it for that seemingly unimportant conversation, the part of history about the crappy tommy gun magazine springs would have been lost forever when that guy passed away a few months ago. It's that kind of history that needs presvervation the most or otherwise you end up with "1939-1945: germans kill jews, rest of the world kills germans. historians are still speculating on where the german and jewish tribes lived" arround 2691.

Excellent point. The devil is in the details, they say, and it's true for games. Connected to what you say, I think the jamming guns were an awesome part of Far Cry 2. The more you used the gun, the more it was prone to malfunction, jam, or ultimately brake/explode in your hands. What spoiled the whole thing, was the fact, that no matter how rotten or rust-eaten a weapon was, it never seemed to brake in an enemy's hand. But what if it were?

Standing on a cliff in the heat of battle, you are suddenly out of bullets, trying to hopelessly yank the spent magazine from the gun, and just then an enemy jumps in front of you, ready to fire, you going snow pale, having nothing else to do, but await your leaded fate, and THEN, his rusty AK jams... imagine that feeling, when you violently cram the new magazine into your weapon, and pump the poor bastard full of bullets... or what if your weapon jams just then :)

It's a fairly overlooked detail, that, especially in WWII, weapons were prone to jam/misfire/overheat/rust/freeze/brake more often than not. Some grenades were dud, some of them had bad fuses and exploded right when you armed them, some of them you wouldn't even have to arm, they exploded on their own...etc. For some, these details might seem to be unnecessary annoyances, but I think this is what makes for a more realistic gameplay, and not Holocaust. First, we have to get accurate in these areas, like jamming weapons, missing drop points with parachute, tanks braking down in the middle of the battle...but the same things should be true for the enemy, too.

As someone who's interested in the time period of about 29-45, I agree with the general attitude of this writing. It's been getting sickening how for a while the History Channel basically told evil stories about Japanese and German sides, then would mention the Soviet Union mass-murdering Germans (civilians and soldiers alike) like they deserved it.

That's why whenever someone immediately rips on Brothers in Arms right off the bat for being a WWII game, it drives me up the wall. They completely miss the point that the game wouldn't work out of that setting. It really set up the ambiguity of the war. Instead of "let's bravely charge the front lines against the Huns for our wonderful country!" it was like they were more angry at their foes for dragging them away from their homes and making them live in fear for the safety of themselves and fellow soldiers. The games actually make you feel uneasy about killing for once as well in a way that puts survival horror games up in the ring. It's actually kind of wrenching to see a lone enemy soldier's friend die, shoot that lone soldier and hear him cry and surrender, then watch my ally finish him off.

Likewise, a historical game that claims to have black and white sentiments needs to explain why we're fighting an enemy besides fictional enemies killing fictional civilians or something. The Russian levels in CoD4 bugged the crap out of me because I was killing "Ultra-Nationalists" because they were, um, not good or something. I couldn't decide why they were evil, because Ultra-Nationalism isn't inherently bad (Hell, it formed the USA, so bravo). So halfway through some writer just said "make them kill civilians," and bam, there's the enemy. It felt like a cop-out so much to the point that I didn't really want to play it anymore.

I digress, good article.

Combined:
This is part of why I hate World war II games. They always show us sides in black and white.

Sure, I'm all for showing the holocaust in a game. It is possible to portray it without actually making someone angry. But if you're going to show that, then show also what the Russians did. Show what the Allies did too. If you're going to put something like the holocaust in, then you better make sure to show that there were a lot more than just Jews being killed. Have enough of a soul to show that there were no "white" sides. Just different shades of black.

I agree with you on that, and yeah game developers should let us see that there were just different shades of black, and no white sides.

Well in most wars there are no white sides

I'm straight, but damn that nazi guy in the picture is hot.

:D

i would be interested in a game that expresses a moment in history accurately.

Kraven Angelous:

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.

I could not agree more.

First of all, kudos to the author of the article. This is by far the most powerful article I have read on The Escapist, if not the entire internet.
It is freakishly scary to think what mass misrepresentation could do to the future generation. But as much as I want them to be more responsible in portraying ALL part of reality, you can't blame developers for not including controversial topics that even schools are having trouble bringing up.
It's not so big for our generation--we grew up with it. We see pretty clearly the events that are direct consequences of WWII. We are constantly reminded such thing exists. However, younger generations keep getting more disconnected from it, and eventually this part of history might just be lost, drowned in the sea of other history. Such is the faith of all human endeavor. WWII is not an isolated case--It just happens to hit the nail right on the head for us gamers.

In the end, the easiest fix should be a huge, unskippable reminder every time you start a game that says "Go read your frikkin text book cuz this is not the only thing that went down in WWII!" And hopefully a better education system that teach kids to deal with information intake from media.

Rajin Cajun:
I don't get why the Holocaust gets a special place yet the horrors of Stalin who purposefully starved and slaughtered certain ethnic groups who refused to comply with communism gets glossed over even in the History Community it is glossed over. Anyways if a games wants to portray the horrors the NSDAP committed they sure as shit should show the horrors of Dresden when the allies firebombed it to the ground to kill as many civilians as possible.

The Holocaust is simply the most prominent example, and the one the author was most familiar with. there's a larger point to be made about historical games in general leaving out the horrors of war, not just games set in WWII. we're better off whenever games deal with history in a more mature, accurate way; the problem is they're not getting made, and the question is: why?

Playbahnosh:
Yes, maybe someday there will be a mainstream game where you have to escape from a concentration camp or debunk 9/11 from the inside, save Israel from the invading Palestine...etc. But we are not there yet, and probably we will not be for some years at least. That's what I'm saying.

i was actually saying the same thing. it's never too early to start thinking about it though.

Asehujiko:

It's that kind of tiny details that get lost in translation far more often then the holocaust. Important events generate a continous ammount of controversy simply by being existing in our history(this article being another example). Weren't it for that seemingly unimportant conversation, the part of history about the crappy tommy gun magazine springs would have been lost forever when that guy passed away a few months ago. It's that kind of history that needs presvervation the most or otherwise you end up with "1939-1945: germans kill jews, rest of the world kills germans. historians are still speculating on where the german and jewish tribes lived" arround 2691.

details of the Holocaust get glossed over too. why does everyone keep bringing up the jews? they were far from the only victims. that's why i think it's important that we attempt to simulate these events sooner rather than later, before we lose the firsthand experience of those who were there.

Playbahnosh:

It's a fairly overlooked detail, that, especially in WWII, weapons were prone to jam/misfire/overheat/rust/freeze/brake more often than not. Some grenades were dud, some of them had bad fuses and exploded right when you armed them, some of them you wouldn't even have to arm, they exploded on their own...etc. For some, these details might seem to be unnecessary annoyances, but I think this is what makes for a more realistic gameplay, and not Holocaust. First, we have to get accurate in these areas, like jamming weapons, missing drop points with parachute, tanks braking down in the middle of the battle...but the same things should be true for the enemy, too.

well, that's not fun either. that would take a lot of design iteration to get to the point where it felt realistic instead of frustrating and arbitrary. it's a worthwhile pursuit, of course, and designers are always working on making gameplay more authentic. however, there seems to be very little focus on improving the narrative.

I thought this article raised a very valid point about narrative and story telling in games which show history like the holocaust,Yet I think it's unfair to pick on Wolfenstein and other videogames for not doing it very well yet.

For Instance: Did any game during Wolfenstein's era tell a story properly? (that involved real life threats etc)Most FPS games show "the enemy" as total evil and Dehumanise them why would they try to be different?

I'll try to be brief and transparent.

Games are supposed to be fun. So were films in the early years of cinema until someone discovered their artistic potential. Games have one thing that not film nor books have - deep immersion.
So games are amusement, ok, but what if the games distort the way we perceive real life? I'm not saying that every game should be realistic to the point of agony, but let's be frank, 17yo twat does not know a hell of a lot and all the knowledge he soaks in is taken from popular culture. After years of playing video games some notions will never be corrected, the old impressions are rooted too deeply in his mind, thus if all the games will follow the exploitation route they will substantially contribute to the dumbness of the western world (and at this very moment about 80-90% of which are idiots anyways...)

I'd actually love to see a game based on literary source, maybe concentration-camp story/novel from the first decade after WW2 or maybe 'Slaughterhouse n5' (someone mentioned Dresden earlier in the topic) and if the game would be made true to the book and Vonneguts intentions (which coincide with Emmanuels article) it'd be vastly different than any other game out there.

The game must have a gameplay, the game must remain a game, but I want to finally see a product which takes advantage of the medium and pushes it to the next level.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the surrounded and helpless motif are a great stuff for a game. More tactical gameplay and you know that you are doomed to fail.
Also a game (or maybe an episode in one) with liberation of a death camp by allied soldiers. You can witness the horror firsthand. It could be played more as a horror game with rising tension and suspense.
As I said - base it on books, stories etc and transform the story into another medium with full awareness of it's benefits, limitations and requirements. Sadly it can be the only way to keep the memory alive.

(does anyone heard the term 'Auschwitz Lie' before? The number of people spreading it increases in direct proportion to years that has passed after the end of the war...)

OK, for the first time ever I couldn't bring myself to read all the posts before mine, so forgive me if I repeat someone else's ideas, but:

You guys got it backwards.

The nazis aren't being demonized because there are so many WWII shooters; there are so many WWII shooters exactly because the Nazis are so easy to demonize. Suggesting that games change the way they portray the Holocaust isn't asking for them to be a bit different, it's asking for them to be the exact opposite of what they are. In the posts I've skimmed there have been several mentions of how games are supposed to be fun, and how you're just a guy shooting a lot of dudes etc. If you want to do that, and you want to do a realistic setting, you either go fantasy (with the Duke Nukems and Serious Sams and Doom Space Marines of gaming going up against dehumanized enemies), do a modern warfare thing and come across as shallow, or do a WWII thing and jump on the zombie nazis bandwagon. Nazis are a stock enemy, they are satisfying to defeat because it's easy to make them come across as aloof and full of themselves, and they've been the measure of evil so strongly in the Western world that you don't need to justify it any more.

I'm not saying that a game that does show the evils of the Holocaust is a bad thing. I'm saying that it would be on the completely opposite end of the gaming spectrum as a CoD would be, as human-looking unhuman enemies are the lifeblood of the genre. What you're asking for is not a different CoD game, but a completely different kind of game. If I was the kind of people who watches a lot of movies I'd probably make a parallel between two war movies, so I'm not, so imagine a war movie that tells the story of a bunch of young brash guys that go to war and kill a lot of whoever they're supposed to kill while their limbs fly off in arcs of crimsom and another war movie that tells the story of a bunch of young brash guys that go to war and slowly rot in the hell of trench warfare and the weight of their own actions. Both movies can be good, but even though they share a theme they are of completely different genres and approach that theme (war) from diametrically opposed directions.

What I'm saying here is that while there should be more games that use the medium's ability to cause strong feelings through interactivity, firing lasers at cyborg Hitler is a completely different monster.

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

Not as cool as the Fascists, though. They had awesome black uniforms, a leader full of himself and were completely incompetent in battle - they're essentially a JRPG villain.

I really agree with this article. War games need to convey the human side. I've seen some attempts at this. While they aren't exactly well done, I always applaud the attempt.

goodman528:
Interesting Article.

The most historically realistic WWII game I know of is Hearts of Iron series, and its developers goes to great length to ensure there are no swastikas or any offensive symbols in their game. Discussion of death camps or any form of killing civilians is banned on the paradox board, and despite the huge number of fan mods, none I know of even touches on the subject of genocide. For one simple reason: MONEY. The game is already banned in China for including a Tibetan flag; and despite having never heard of this game before, campaigns to get it banned everywhere else too because of the ability to play as Japan and win the war. It would be banned in Germany, Austria, and most of central Europe if it included any Nazi symbols. And I'm just talking about symbols here, like the double lightening (SS); so I think if it touched the real subject of what the SS did, then it would be banned all over the world.

Here's what I think a thought provoking WWII shooter might look like:

(Written for a different thread ages ago, posted in spoiler tags to shorten this post.)

I agree with the idea behind this game, to teach gamers about the very real choices that were made by the very human people (most of them anyway) You see, I'm a strong believer in communism myself, but even stronger in presenting the truth, as factual and as horrible as it may be. So, I do believe this sort of game should be released (while telling that it is based on facts) to teach the masses about the realities of WWII. Sadly however, the majority of people don't understand what a learning experience is, and would most likely ban this game as fast as possible.
So, until humanity is ready to open its mind, I'll keep on fighting my battles in outer space/against ghosts/non-Nazi zombies/robots

I think the most problematic aspect about historical FPS' is that they're designed to be fun. I've known a disturbing number people who honestly believed that 'back in the day', war was something enjoyable; that there simply was no moral ambiguity back when Nazis were involved and the invention of more advanced weaponry has since diluted the 'glory' of combat.

I think this article's point about the disregard for the Holocaust is also very insightful. Historical games have this pratfall of not being entirely honest - of taking things not as they were, but how we'd like to remember them - and that's a bad thing.

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.

Totally agree. Video-games aren't the right medium for this subject. I learned about the Holocaust at a young age when I was in school. At first I couldn't believe people could be that callous and cruel to there fellow man, but time educates us all. You will probably never see a game based on the genocide in Darfur, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia or any other horrific event similar to the Holocaust. People honestly don't want to either relive or experience events like that in a game. You learn from the past so they don't happen again, but you don't incorporate them into a form of entertainment to make a quick buck. That would be another travesty, never in the history of man would I have thought genocide or ethnic cleansing and entertainment would be synonymous. Next thing you know, they will want a Trail of Tears video game, surely that will be "educational", but also inappropriate.

Darkowl:
I can't help but feel that there is a contradiction in the author's reflections.
"none of them [forms of media] are as thoroughly misleading as World War II FPS games."
It follows, therefore, that games have created a distorted image of the past that is replacing society's ability to recall history from its past, as demonstrated by our failure to capture the memories of a dying generation.

Although I personally believe that games are closer to "extravagant toys" that are not capable of communicating history as well as a historical test, it is almost universally accepted that they are an artform.

Art, however, is a thoroughly subjective form of knowledge that is a greater indication of an individual's thoughts at the time of creation than a vessel for historical truth. The popular perception of history has always been influenced more by art than by fact and there are many examples of this; the American Hollywood image of native indians and heroes like Colonel Custer, the English perception of WW1 draws greatly from Wilfred Owen. I have no doubt that in Israel, American and Germany the popular image of the Holocaust is too distorted by artistic perception.

On the other hand, games are a medium that have to be, first and foremost, entertaining if not fun. I see several problems with games tackling serious historical issues:
- The FPS style is inescapably fantasy, that we can pick up a gun, die, try again.
- Too much realism in games is, generally, not fun.
- The only realism we can really introduce to games is an emotional response by provoking the player.

Granted there is no reason why, as the author suggests, games cannot challenge players emotionally over serious issues. However this comes back to the flaw of art as a historical vessel: that by tampering with emotion rather than fact allows the creator to fictionalise history, and the player to bypass consideration of the truth.

YOu make an interesting point there, and I agree. Art has no obligation to tell any truths beyond the artists' themselves. However, there was an age, and I am so thankful that I was born in it, that kids craved knowledge - certifiable knowledge from books and experts, and wisdom from community or family elders. I learned so much as a child, from multiple sources. I drove people crazy with my questions and how I would bring up what 'so and so said' to counter what I was hearing. My parents encouraged it, and there was no Internet - and I am so thankful for that.

The Net is dulling our intellect. Perhaps it making us smarter in some way, because we are more exposed to information, but due to the overload and the inherent isolation of the online space, it is also making us more narrow minded. Poeple don't discuss online - they fight. They express themselves with seldom any intention of taking onboard what other people will say. They have frozen what they know and only stubbornly thaw it out and change it.

We have literally a WORLD of knowledge at our fingertips, but so many of us now, are content at exploiting hardly any of it. We want the quick fix - the 'One Ring' - like how people don't try to lose weight if they have to do more than drink a shake for one meal a day. What's more, opinions have been for so long preached as a 'human right', that there is now an attitude that disagreement or heaven's forbid, correction, is somehow an ATTACK on those rights!

Sorry, I have a point to all this. If people today are sadly falling into the 'hearing only what they want to hear and knowing only what they've heard', if they ARE shunning certifiable informational sources which must travel through peer review and various gatekeepers, if they ARE always looking for the quick fix 'blurb' that rules them all, and NOT openmindedly hungering and hunting for knowledge, WHERE ON EARTH are they going to find it? From the mass media - mainstream sensationalised and bought News; movies and games engineered by accountants to make as much money as possible?

So many people I meet online ARE deficit in knowledge about the world around them, and it shows in the things they say, the beliefs they hold true, or just in the accidents and mistakes they have. When we have respected people in their worlds, such as the editor of a certain popular games site, who don't even know that the RUSSIANS fought the GERMANS, describing this so-called 'what-if' scenario as 'the battle to end all battles'; I start to lose hope.

So getting to my much delayed point, and I am sorry for taking so long, you are right when you say that art is free to disconnect itself from limitations, be that 'truth' or realism, or so on. However, if only it could be more than that, because when these poeple I meet today - people who consider that consulting just one Dan Brown book is suitable enough research to enter a discussion - when they have kids, it could be like the blind leading the blind.

UberNoodle:

YOu make an interesting point there, and I agree. Art has no obligation to tell any truths beyond the artists' themselves. However, there was an age, and I am so thankful that I was born in it, that kids craved knowledge - certifiable knowledge from books and experts, and wisdom from community or family elders. I learned so much as a child, from multiple sources. I drove people crazy with my questions and how I would bring up what 'so and so said' to counter what I was hearing. My parents encouraged it, and there was no Internet - and I am so thankful for that.

The Net is dulling our intellect. Perhaps it making us smarter in some way, because we are more exposed to information, but due to the overload and the inherent isolation of the online space, it is also making us more narrow minded. Poeple don't discuss online - they fight. They express themselves with seldom any intention of taking onboard what other people will say. They have frozen what they know and only stubbornly thaw it out and change it.

We have literally a WORLD of knowledge at our fingertips, but so many of us now, are content at exploiting hardly any of it. We want the quick fix - the 'One Ring' - like how people don't try to lose weight if they have to do more than drink a shake for one meal a day. What's more, opinions have been for so long preached as a 'human right', that there is now an attitude that disagreement or heaven's forbid, correction, is somehow an ATTACK on those rights!

Sorry, I have a point to all this. If people today are sadly falling into the 'hearing only what they want to hear and knowing only what they've heard', if they ARE shunning certifiable informational sources which must travel through peer review and various gatekeepers, if they ARE always looking for the quick fix 'blurb' that rules them all, and NOT openmindedly hungering and hunting for knowledge, WHERE ON EARTH are they going to find it? From the mass media - mainstream sensationalised and bought News; movies and games engineered by accountants to make as much money as possible?

So many people I meet online ARE deficit in knowledge about the world around them, and it shows in the things they say, the beliefs they hold true, or just in the accidents and mistakes they have. When we have respected people in their worlds, such as the editor of a certain popular games site, who don't even know that the RUSSIANS fought the GERMANS, describing this so-called 'what-if' scenario as 'the battle to end all battles'; I start to lose hope.

So getting to my much delayed point, and I am sorry for taking so long, you are right when you say that art is free to disconnect itself from limitations, be that 'truth' or realism, or so on. However, if only it could be more than that, because when these poeple I meet today - people who consider that consulting just one Dan Brown book is suitable enough research to enter a discussion - when they have kids, it could be like the blind leading the blind.

It's been quite a while since I made that post! My opinion of history has moved on quite a bit since then, but...

Ubernoodle you're criticising the consumer and not art, right? Art has a responsibility to hold some kind of truth, but since it is artistic or individual truth it doesn't need to consider historical or objective (if such a thing exists) fact. I agree that this is a flaw in all forms of art however the consumer has to decide what is and isn't real. It isn't the responsibility of the artist to ensure his work isn't misinterpretted, it is the role of the consumer to use their own judgement.

By placing responsibility on the game developers would be to have games produced that gave precidence to history over fun would suck all the fun out of it. It would be like a slightly more entertaining version of a flight-sim.
Instead I'd rather see game developers rewrite history and players use a little bit of critical reasoning to seperate truth and fiction. I'd also like to see pigs fly.

Meshakhad:
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.

I agree that a game should be made to cover this subject. But this subject would have to be handled delicately, start off with a game with only a brief amount of coverage, then if the game does well make another and try to fit a little more in and so on. One idea I have is something akin to to COD World at War, make it so that you play through the perspectives of differing people. Start off the game as a random prisoner working in collaboration with (or as) Leon Feldhendler and Alaxander Pechersky to start the uprising at the Sobibor extermination camp. Start a the first portion with the various prep work, only to build up to the actual uprising and ensuing escape from the camp. Then through the rest of the game when going back to this character have their levels be a continuance, either still on the run and trying to leave Nazi occupied Europe, joining with a resistance group, join up with the Red Army, or maybe reaching America only to be drafted and either be sent to the pacific or back to Europe to fight.

Then another character could be a resistance fighter. Perhaps an agent that steals intel and tries to deliver it to the allies. Or even play as a double agent, a german officer or high ranking public official with access to high level intelligence. Or perhaps a character in a similar predicament to what my grandfather had to go through during the war, an American Jewish POW. Constantly having to be careful not to reveal anything about yourself that would out you as a jew. Always trying to escape and get back to the allied forces, eventually succeed in escaping and travel as a civillian to try and reach the allies, helping resistance fighters or jewish refugees on the way.

Put a Swatika on anything and people come running n' shouting. Gotta get me one of those kickass leather jackets!

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