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Video game simulates East German border terror
Stober presents the game on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Video game simulates East German border terror

Published: 29 Sep 2010 12:16 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Sep 2010 12:16 GMT+02:00

A controversial new video game set for release on the 20th anniversary of German reunification this week lets players take on the roles of trigger-happy East German border guards or political fugitives running for their lives.

Set along the death strip between the East and West Germany in 1976 – one of deadliest years for those attempting escape from the communist east – the 3-D interactive game “1378 (km)” aims to get young Germans interested in their country’s history.

“Through the personal identification as a fugitive of the republic or a border guard, and the intensive experience of the border areas, the interest of the young generation in the conflict of recent German history will be awakened,” according to a statement by the university.

Creator Jens M. Stober, a student at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, born in 1986 just a few years before the Berlin Wall fell, presented the game to journalists on Tuesday.

Players, depending on whether their characters are guards or escapees, must choose whether to shoot, arrest, run, give up, kill, or be killed.

The consequences of these actions along the Iron Curtain include prison for attempted escapees and honours for soldiers. But border guards who shoot to kill more than three times are magically transported to the year 2000, where they face trial for their crimes.

The point system considers both political and social aspects of players’ actions – too many dead people at the border increases political pressure on East Germany, lowering the player’s score.

But the director of the Berlin Wall Memorial, Axel Klausmeier, called the game “tasteless,” and an insult to the families of those killed along the border while trying to escape.

He also said the game was “unsuitable” for teaching historical facts.

“The seriousness of what once went on at the border can’t be portrayed in this way,” he said.

“1378 (km),” named after the length of the border between East and West Germany that remained for 28 years, will be available for download free of charge beginning October 3, German Unity Day.

1378(km) - Teaser from Jens M. Stober on Vimeo.

DAPD/ka

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Your comments about this article

13:44 September 29, 2010 by auniquecorn
border guards who shoot to kill more than three times are magically transported to the year 2000, where they face trial for their crimes.

Dank, after only 3 times?
14:26 September 29, 2010 by dcgi
Quality of the game assets looks pretty poor
14:30 September 29, 2010 by closeenough
>>¦quot;The seriousness of what once went on at the border can¦#39;t be portrayed in this way,¦quot;
15:10 September 29, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
I am sure his intentions weren't that bad, but this is just a terrible end result.
15:13 September 29, 2010 by moistvelvet
Axel Klausmeir has obviously never played Call of Duty 2, Veterans of the invasion of Normandy even appreciate how a video game can educate school kids about the horrors of war far better than any text book. I can see where this game is coming from, the graphics might be limited but then it isn't supposed to be the next blockbuster to knock HALO of the top spot, but a tool for education. What exactly is wrong with that? What is so different between this period in history being represented in a game, a book or a film, aren't they all forms of entertainment?
19:18 September 29, 2010 by DinhoPilot
Shoot 'em up. Aren't there more productive things to do, entertain this young generatio?!!!!
20:25 September 29, 2010 by closeenough
The idiots who create these kinds of games have no respect for the subject or the victims of this ugly chapter in german history. For them its all about money and one gets the feeling that they would create a computer game out of the death of their own grandmothers if they thought it would sell.

Hopfully one unintended result of this trash is the lesson of how horrible that era really was. Imagine your own country shooting at you for wanting to get out.
07:52 September 30, 2010 by wenddiver
If a Border Guard shoots somebody, he moves to the next level as a leftist in re-united Germany where you run for political office and criticize the West and Israel for being war mongers and anti-freedom. Get extra points for hiding Hamas operatives in your apartment prior to their commiting an act of terror.
07:57 September 30, 2010 by auniquecorn
@ wenddiver

Where can I get that game?
09:05 September 30, 2010 by mexican.wav
Doesn't look that god and I cant see how border control can be turned into a decent game.

pretty pointless
10:03 September 30, 2010 by moistvelvet
Here is a suggestion, how about people read the article before posting a comment, the game is free and it is aimed to educate.
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