Gamescom: Germany in video games Science and ecology DW

If someone knew Germany only through videogames, it would have the following image: abandoned and destroyed cities, tanks burning in the street, numerous soldiers in SS uniforms. The Second World War remains in computers and game consoles. "The shooting games or" shooters "from the Second World War are an established genre", says Andreas Lange, director of the Computergamesmuseum in Berlin.

Interested in Germany?

There are many successful open-world videogames taking place in cities in the United States ("Grand Theft Auto"), in London, in Paris ("Assassin & # 39; s Creed") or in Tokyo ("Yakuza"). In this type of games the "gamer" can move freely, so far this does not exist with German cities. "I think games are a global medium and that foreign manufacturers can hardly imagine that a game in Germany can have. In addition, there are the expectations of the players, if Germany was one of the scenarios for them, many would want to that it would be during the Second World War, says Lange, fantasy or futuristic scenarios, on the other hand, Yes, they allow developers of videogames much more creative freedom.

Felix Falk, from Game.

Felix Falk of "Game", during the opening of Gamescom.

Germany, fifth country in sales

That is why most do not occur in real worlds. "That's exciting: they allow you to create fantasy worlds," says Felix Falk, managing director of the "Game" association, "It's much more exciting how German culture is reflected in the fantasy worlds." The shooting game "Spec Ops: The Line", by Studio Yager Development, does not happen in Germany, but it tells a story that focuses on the horrors of war and the internal conflict of the soldiers, and its narrative style is very typical in Germany . because it was the first anti-war game.

In terms of sales, Germany is the fifth largest gaming market in the world after the United States, China, Japan and South Korea. However, the large successful video games come from abroad. "Other countries have recognized the potential of that industry in the past," says Felix Falk. Virtual reality technologies, artificial intelligence or three-dimensional methods are now used in a large number of different areas. "Videogames are subsidized in Canada, England or France, where their production costs are up to 30 percent lower than in Germany," he says. The federal government has recognized that it is necessary and desirable to support the sector. This is laid down in the pact of the German political coalition. The amount of the alleged subsidy will be determined in the autumn.

Atypical scenario: the German province

The game "Trüberbrook" shows that there are also video games in Germany that have nothing to do with the Nazis. This takes place in a fictional city, Trüberbrook, in the German province, in the 1960s. There, Hans Tannhauser, an American, a student of quantum physics, who won a voyage, landed without being able to recall that he ever had a fiction. participated contest. Playing Tannhauser on different levels, solving riddles, gaining access to different dialogues with all sorts of crazy characters, a goal is pursued. Exactly: save the world.

In addition, & # 39; Trüberbrook & # 39; to German cultural history: Tannhauser, in an allusion to the opera by Richard Wagner, meets Gretchen, known as Goethe & Faust & # 39 ;, and speaks with a computer called Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor Roman Empire These kinds of messages or references, known in the jargon as "Easter eggs", are deliberately introduced from the beginning to enrich the plot, says the developer of "Trüberbrook", Florian Köhne.

"Trüberbrook" is produced for the international market in English and German. The characters speak in English, with the exception of Tannhauser, who does it with a German accent. This detail is no coincidence: "We wanted to create an exotic world for people who do not come from Germany." At the beginning of 2019 & # 39; Trüberbrook & # 39; available worldwide.

Image of the video game Through The Darkest of Times.

Image of the video game "Through The Darkest of Times".

Resistance without firearms

More disturbing is the game "Through the Darkest of Times", by Paintbucket Games, in Berlin. Although it will appear at the earliest in 2019, it has attracted national attention only a few weeks ago, because it is the first video game in Germany that is suitable from the age of twelve and exhibits swastika. This is possible because of the recent decision of the association Autocontrol Entertainment Software (USK), which is responsible for classifying video games by age and content in Germany. But much more exciting than the swastika debate is the game itself. The player is the head of a resistance group in Berlin during the Third Reich. Despite the simple appearance with a small number of colors, black, gray, some red and many text boxes, the game, which spans the period between 1933 and 1945, lets the player fall. "We are always surprised by the intensity of the experience many people have," says Sebastian Schulz, one of the two developers. "Through the Darkest of Times" is an anti-fascist game that does not hide everyday life in Nazi Germany, nor the intimidation of the SS, nor the Holocaust. "We are political people, even if we are game developers, and we want to make political statements," says Schulz.

Kristina Reymann-Schneider (RMR / ER)

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