Videogames rarely shy away from the bleaker moments of human history. From the horrors of the Crusades to the grim, cut throat frontier of the old West, some of the greatest gaming moments of recent years have been firmly rooted in the bloodiest episodes of the past. Unlike other media, though, there's always an air of controversy surrounding videogames that deal with events in living memory.
Take 1378 KM
, for example. It’s a Half-Life 2 mod that places players in the role of either a guard or a refugee at the Berlin Wall. The refugees have to cross the wall, the guards have to stop them. Unsurprisingly, it’s currently causing huge controversy in Germany. The game's creator, Jens M. Stober, defends the game as a work of art, suggesting in a statement on the site that it's not necessarily the content of the title that's causing controversy, but the medium.
There have been documentaries, feature films, paintings, sculptures and a huge variety of other pieces created that deal with the terrible things that happened during the communist regime in Eastern Germany, but videogames have one feature that's not present in the others - interactivity. In a videogame, you're not simply presented with the facts, you're presented with a choice. You can choose not to shoot, if you want.