Attentat 1942, a video game unavailable due to Nazi symbolism, finally released in Germany
10 September 2018 (Prague, Czech Republic)
Attentat 1942 is a historically accurate video game about the Nazi occupation of former Czechoslovakia. It won the “Most Amazing Game Award” at the prestigious A MAZE 2018 Festival in Berlin, yet remained unavailable in Germany due to the government’s controversial policy that prohibited Nazi symbolism in video games. However, in light of the recent change of this policy, the game received an approval by the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK). Today marks the release of Attentat 1942 into distribution as the first PC video game with Nazi symbolism released in Germany with the USK rating after the change of the policy. Moreover, the game is released with German subtitles.
The game explores WWII through the eyes of its surviving civilians. Combining interactive comics, video-interviews, and archival film footage, it presents a unique depiction of the not-so-distant past. "Attentat 1942 shows the profound impact that the war and the Nazi totalitarian regime had on the lives and minds of ordinary people. It immerses players in the living histories of personal tragedy and pain as well as moments of extraordinary hope and courage,” says Vít Šisler, the game’s lead designer. “Attentat 1942 offers a stark reminder of the dangers of fascism and political radicalism,” adds Shawn Clybor, a US-based historian collaborating on the game’s localization.
Attentat 1942 was released worldwide in October 2017 and has received many awards ever since (“Best Learning Game” at Games for Change 2018, “Czech Game of the Year 2017” and an IGF 2018 nomination for Excellence in Narrative). However, it remained unavailable in Germany for almost a year.
Despite being based on research conducted by professional historians and documented historical testimonies, legally releasing the game in Germany was not an easy feat. USK was not allowed to grant approval to any game containing any unconstitutional symbolism. This has changed only recently and games with such symbolism are now assessed individually for their social adequacy. Attentat 1942 is the first PC video game released on the German market after the change of the rating policy to receive the 12+ rating by USK in its original, uncensored version.
"We tried to create the stories and characters in the game with maximum respect for the historical realities of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, including items from daily life and archival footage, " says Marie Černá, the game’s historian. "We are glad we could finally release the game as it is. Removing Nazi symbolism from a serious game about the atrocities of Nazism would be absurd, " adds Jakub Gemrot, the game’s lead programmer.
"The win for Attentat 1942 at A MAZE Berlin was an important step toward officially accepting video games in Germany as a cultural medium with the same rights and duties as other art forms,” says Thorsten S. Wiedemann, founder and director of the A MAZE festival. Recently, at least two other serious historical games have also received the USK rating despite containing Nazi symbolism. Through the Darkest of Times, a yet unreleased game about civilian resistance in Berlin during the so-called “Third Reich,” received a rating for a Gamescom demo. A rating was also granted to My Child Lebensborn, a game about the child of an enemy in a post-war society, available on mobiles and tablets.
Attentat 1942 has been developed by Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences, and was supported by the Czech Ministry of Culture and the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic. The game is available on Steam and Humble Store for PC and Mac.
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