Could a Game Be Like Young Games on Holocaust History?

The terms “video game ”and“ Holocaust ”seem to be not in the same sentence, and yet Luc Bernard works exactly that way. Worried about the influx of incidents against the Jews in the U.S. and around the world, and motivated by a desire to bring Holocaust education to a new generation, Bernard took on a project he set aside almost 10 years ago. “It was a lot different before, and thank God I didn’t finish it,” he said. The significant difference between now and then? The addition of 83-year-old Joan Salter, a researcher, appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire for Holocaust education services, and Holocaust child survivor, as playwright.

Meanwhile, Bernard has had several playing careers, working in the 2009’s Mecho Wars and the Pocket God series, directed Kitten Squad (PETA’s first video game for consoles), and make Paradise Island, a hurricane relief game for Puerto Rico. There is a personal side to his efforts as well. Bernard’s grandmother was watching Children’s transport children, young Jewish refugees who fled from Nazi Germany to Great Britain in the late 1930s. Bernard, however, only learned the hidden Jewish roots in his family when he was a teenager.

Called The Light of Darkness and set in Bernard’s birthplace in France, the play plots how a seemingly normal society can easily turn back against the Jews. The characters in the play, a Polish-Jewish family in France, are not real, but the events are based on things that actually happened, most of them in the Salter family. “No matter how good I get at a writer, they never have the same feeling and feelings about the Holocaust compared to someone who actually experienced it – even when he was a child, he and his family experienced it. “That’s why I think it’s been so special.”

The game follows the family experience in the lead Vel d’Hiv roundup in Paris in July 1942, when the arrest of foreign Jewish families (including more than 4,000 children) by the French police took place on the orders of the German authorities. They were kept in appalling conditions before being taken to internment camps, and finally to camps like Auschwitz where they were killed.

For both Salter and Bernard, accuracy and realism are essential, in everything from dates and location to uniform. When Bernard sent Salter photos of some of the work he had previously done, he immediately took to the fact that he had Nazis gathering children. “And I said no, they weren’t Nazis. It was the French police,” Salter said. It’s a significant difference, because the Vichy government surrounded the Jews even though the Nazis didn’t want to. conversation changes from there.

“He’s the biggest critic,” Bernard said. “He can notice every detail. Long story short, the game will not be released unless Joan approves it.

Salter immediately knew that Bernard would face the fact that he was a survivor of Vel d’Hiv. “But, of course, I’m still young,” he said, “while to me more importantly I’ve spent 40 years researching it and recording the evidence.”

Bernard hopes that by playing the game and experiencing the story, the user will get closer to the characters and be more eager to learn about the Holocaust and discrimination against Jews. “You’re trying to create empathy, so it has to be historically correct that it shouldn’t be imposed on people’s heads,” Salter said. “You show how complicated it is. As with any drama, you have to empathize with the characters, and then you slowly see their lives ruined with their innocence. ”

Meanwhile, Bernard sees a video game industry where games talk to their players about World War II from the perspective of American soldiers who shot the Nazis, distrustful of the horrors. of the Holocaust. “It may be controversial, but I believe pop culture makes Nazis cartoon villains, like the zombie Nazis in Call of Duty and Wolfenstein (which I love). You undermine the real evil of what the Nazis were and what they did… and you take advantage of the trauma of the Jews, ”Salter added:“ You have to walk a careful line between the Holocaust cleansing and the perfect fit for complete inhumanity. . ”

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