"Insensitive" East German border videogame a hit

Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:11pm EST
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By Eric Kelsey

BERLIN (Reuters) - A long-awaited German videogame pitting East German fugitives against border guards has proved immensely popular despite being condemned as "utterly inappropriate" and "insensitive" by a victims' group.

Demand for the game brought down servers following its release over the weekend, a spokesman for the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, where the game was developed, said on Tuesday.

The game -- called "1378(km)" for the length of the former border between East and West Germany -- requires players to either shoot at fugitives fleeing the East or be the fugitives crossing the border.

Rainer Wagner, head of the Association for Victims of Communist Tyranny (UOKG), said that the game trivialises the trauma and suffering of those who tried to escape East Germany.

"It is utterly inappropriate to ignore the history and fate of those who died or were arrested," Wagner told Reuters.

"It used the trauma of the victims and turns it into a violent game," Wagner added. "The game is simply insensitive."

Wagner himself has first-hand knowledge of the game's premise: he was arrested twice attempting to flee East Germany and spent 1-1/2 years in prison as a teenager for trying to cross East Germany's interior border.

GOOD INTENTIONS   Continued...