Can a Game Get Young Players Interested in Holocaust History?

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the word “video” “Game” and “Holocaust” don’t seem to be in the same sentence, and yet Luke Bernard is working on the exact same thing. Anti-Semitic Hate Incidents In America and around the world, and inspired by a desire to bring Holocaust education to a new generation, Bernard chose a project he had set aside about 10 years ago. “It was completely different then, and thank God I didn’t get over it,” he admits. Key difference between now and then? In addition to a researcher, 83-year-old Joan Salter, a member of the Order of the British Empire for services to Holocaust education and a child survivor of the Holocaust as the author of the play.

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Meanwhile, Bernard has had an extensive career in gaming, having worked in 2009 mecho wars And this pocket God series, directed kitten squad (PETA’s first video game for the console), and Banana paraiso island, a hurricane relief game for Puerto Rico. There is also a personal side to his efforts. Bernard’s grandmother took care kindertransport Children, Jewish refugee children who fled Nazi Germany to Great Britain in the late 1930s. However, Bernard only learned of his family’s hidden Jewish roots as a teenager.

Called light in the dark And set in the birthplace of Bernard’s France, the game shows how a normal society can quickly turn against the Jews. The characters in the game, a Polish-Jewish family in France, are fictional, but the events are based on things that actually happened, many of them to the Salter’s family. “No matter how good a writer I might find, he could never have had the same feeling and emotion about the Holocaust as someone who had actually experienced it – even though he was just a kid, he had more His family experienced it. So I think it has become something special.”


Follows the experience of the family in the lead up to the game Well D HIV Roundup In Paris in July 1942, when, at the behest of German authorities, the mass arrest of foreign Jewish families (including more than 4,000 children) by French police took place. They were kept in dire conditions, before being taken to internment camps, and eventually to camps such as Auschwitz where they were murdered.

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For both Salter and Bernard, accuracy and realism were important, on everything from dates and locations to uniforms. When Bernard sent Salter photos of some of his earlier work, he immediately picked up on the fact that he had seen Nazis surrounded children. “And I said no, it was not the Nazis. It was the French police,” Salter says. An important distinction, because the Vichy government had already rounded up the Jews before the Nazis wanted it. The conversation developed from there.

“She’s the biggest critic,” says Bernard. “She’ll pay attention to every detail. Long story short, the game isn’t going to continue until Joan” approves it.

Salter immediately realized that Bernard would attest to the fact that she was a survivor of the Val d’Hiv. “But, of course, I was a young child,” she says, “while it is much more important to me that I spent 40 years researching this and recording testimony.”

Bernard hopes that by playing the game and experiencing the story, the user will connect with the characters and become more curious to learn about the Holocaust and discrimination against Jews. “You’re trying to create empathy, so it has to be historically correct without hitting people’s heads,” Salter says. “You are showing how complicated it is. Like in any drama, you have to empathize with the characters, and then you slowly watch their lives fall apart through no fault of theirs.”

Meanwhile, Bernard saw a video game industry where the only conversation the game had with its players about World War II was from the perspective of American soldiers killing Nazis, completely ignoring the horrors of the Holocaust. “It may be controversial, but I believe that pop culture has turned Nazis into cartoon villains, just like zombie Nazis.” Duty And Wolfenstein (Whom I love). You’re minimizing the real evil of the Nazis and what they did… and you’re profiting from Jewish trauma,” says Salter: “You have to find a difference between sanitizing the Holocaust and actually killing absolute inhumanity at home.” You have to tread very carefully.”

some games, such as Call of Duty: Vanguard And battlefield 5, despite often being set during World War II, completely clears history by removing all traces of Nazi Germany.

remembers watching bernard Schindler’s List in school as a child and how it affected him and his fellow students. That film opened the door to Holocaust representation in films beyond historical documentaries. “Why [the film] Resonates for so many people because you’ve become attached to these characters. “

It’s the same thing when you tell people that 6 million Jews were killed instead of telling the story of an individual or a family. He says that in the US, only a few states require Holocaust education. “Many people think this is ancient history.”

That’s why, say Bernard and Salter, it’s so important to find innovative ways to educate a whole new generation—the Internet and gaming generation. “I mean, more people play sports than listen to music or watch movies combined.” In fact, this is not only the next development for Holocaust education, but it also shows that the industry can tackle serious topics, he insists.

The problem is that many of the boards of large Holocaust organizations are full of people who don’t have an understanding of video games, Barnard says. “They think it’s Super Mario in a concentration camp. They imagine the worst. Many of these organizations are reluctant to actively jump into social media, so it’s no surprise that the term Video game automatically scares them. “Most older people don’t realize that video games are like interactive movies anymore. We’ve kind of transcended and some have become very different, so there’s such a disconnect.”

It may not come as a surprise, but Salter isn’t necessarily the go-to generation that is into video games. her grandson first introduced her to Super Mario When he was 3 years old. “Well, he’s 18 now,” she says. “The concept of a game, I didn’t really understand, but as far as I’m concerned, I wrote a screenplay for an animated film.”

Unlike a traditional video game, light in the dark Gives no choice to the players. “Because the Jews had no choice during the Holocaust,” explains Bernard. Instead, each scene has some interactivity – almost like an interactive movie where a player completes certain tasks rather than making choices. For example, at one point, the game demands that the player be registered with the police as a Jew. “The Holocaust out there isn’t something you can game-ife,” says Bernard. There is no such thing as “winning” the Holocaust.

But, he says, the people making games about the Holocaust are inevitable. “So we should do it now and do it the right way so that we can create a blueprint for other developers to be able to tell their stories.”

Melissa Mott, Deputy Director echo and reflection Feather anti defamation league, runs a program that focuses on middle school and high school Holocaust education. Upon learning about the game, her first reaction was skeptical and apprehensive, but after digging deeper she appreciated the research and care, and insisted on experiencing the Holocaust through a first-person interactive lens. “There is certainly an opportunity for this sport to reach a wider audience,” Mott says. “In the world of Holocaust education, new learning modalities are really important and we are seeing more efforts in this direction. [using social media platforms], so there’s definitely room and space for new energy around things like sports.” It’s really a question of collective memory, she says, “As the Holocaust becomes more distant in our history, as the survivors are passing away, I think there is a need for education around this topic.” There is a need for a new, more robust approach that can reach a non-Jewish audience.”

Bernard expects to release the game for PlayStation 4, 5 and Xbox consoles by Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27, 2022, and will make the game available to download for free. In addition, Barnard is working on a pilot program that is being implemented by schools in the UK next year to see if students are eager to learn about the Holocaust after they finish the game. “It has an educational aspect to it, but I think the biggest thing is that curious people download it and watch it play and want to know more about what happened,” he says.

Bernard isn’t necessarily targeting the game at Jews. “Let’s be honest, all Jews know about the Holocaust, you know what I mean? It’s for everyone else.”

While there is no silver bullet, Salter says: “Hopefully it will attract people who may not even understand what the Holocaust was.”

“It’s a tough project, but it’s going to be worth it,” Bernard says. “If it fails, I would have tried, and that’s what matters. I’d open the doors for other people to tell stories of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. Regardless, hopefully it’s going to have some kind of positive will have an effect.” The most powerful thing humans have is stories, they say: “Stories have shaped and changed the world.”

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