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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Holocaust Video Game Designer Seeking Public Funding

But the game he appears to be pushing is not so much about the Holocaust as about a kind of post-Disney pastoral animation.
This may be as Holocaust-like as the game gets, with the mass arrest of Jews in Paris, July 16, 1942. During the chaos Samuel's mother tells him to escape the city.

This may be as Holocaust-like as the game gets, with the mass arrest of Jews in Paris, July 16, 1942. During the chaos Samuel's mother tells him to escape the city.

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Luc Bernard, an independent Videogame Director living in New York City, has worked on projects like “Pocket God: The Runs,” “Reaper,” “SteamPirates,” and the critically acclaimed “Mecho Wars.” Now Luc wants to make a Holocaust video game.

According to Beta Gamebeat, he has contemplated the idea for more than five years, and is finally ready to raise money for it via the Indiegogo crowdfunding site.

So far, no publishers have wanted to touch the game, titled “Imagination Is The Only Escape,” writes Dean Takahashi in Gamebeat. Nevertheless, Bernard thinks he can build and launch the title—about a little boy’s escape from the Nazis—for just $125,000.

His first task would be to convince potential donors that a game like this should exist at all.

“Understanding the mental toll the Holocaust took on the victims—especially children—is pivotal in a global society,” states Bernard’s page on Indiegogo. “As the main character, Samuel, users will have somewhat of a front-row seat into the horror of the Nazi Army’s occupation of Paris and persecution of Jewish families.”

Using a logic not so different from that of the designers of the “ride” at the Washington DC Holocaust Museum, the pitch stresses: “Imagination will not only have users thinking about the people involved, but the goal of the game is to inspire more people to research and learn about the Holocaust. As the old saying goes: ‘Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.’”

And those wishing to repeat history could get the 2.0 version from Amazon…

“Video games are often seen as meaningless distractions for children,” argues the designer, “but Imagination has the opportunity to blaze a trail for other games that look to tackle controversial, but important topics.”

I’m thinking the Trail of Tears, the Bataan Death March, Hiroshima… All in living colors and great video processing.

GamesBeat’s Takahashi asked Bernard: Did you have some interesting conversations about why this kind of game would not get made? Was it thought to be too controversial? Did anyone warn you that you shouldn’t make this game?

“A lot of people have said that I’m treading somewhere dangerous – ‘You shouldn’t talk about this. Games shouldn’t handle this,’” Bernard replied. “What I tell them is, look at the new Wolfenstein, for example. You’ve seen it, right? I think they have robot Nazis or something like that? That’s what I would call distasteful. I’d nearly say it spits on what happened during World War II. You’re taking what the Nazis represent – a mass genocide, the killing of so many people – and you’re making it seem like a toy, a game. It’s an insult to the Holocaust. Bethesda, by funding that game, is spitting on what really happened in World War II. To make a game about robot Nazis that makes World War II that seems like fun, you’re the one that’s insulting history.”

While exploring a forest near the village, Samuel is being passed off as a Christian orphan. He discovers a Fox named Renard who tells him that if he helps her restore peace to the forest, she can bring his mother back to life.

While exploring a forest near the village, Samuel is being passed off as a Christian orphan. He discovers a Fox named Renard who tells him that if he helps her restore peace to the forest, she can bring his mother back to life.

Here’s the plot summary, according to Bernard’s pitch:

“The story starts off before the Occupation of France by Nazi Germany. The player is introduced to the main character, a Jewish boy named Samuel who is playing with his friends, going to school, and living a normal life in Paris. However, when France is invaded by the Nazis, Samuel and his family are soon forced to wear the yellow star of David on their clothes.

“The scene changes to the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, the mass arrest of Jews in Paris that took place on July 16, 1942. During the chaos Samuel’s mother tells him to escape the city. She takes off his star so he can’t be recognized as a Jew, and gives him the address of a Catholic priest who can help him escape Paris and the occupied part of France. As Samuel escapes, his mother is spotted and killed as he is able to escape.

“Samuel starts his journey to find the priest, sneaking his way through Paris. Samuel soon finds him, and is smuggled out to southern France. They arrive at a small village hidden in a forest, where the villagers are passing off Jewish children from all over France as Christian orphans, and soon Samuel meets a fox who tells him that if he helps her he will be able to see his mother again.”

Not so much the Holocaust experience as a refreshing outing through the French countryside. Somehow, the absence of starvation in the ghetto and crematoria chimneys, takes away from the full experience. I would recommend Luc rent or download “The Sorrow and the Pity” and make that into a videogame.

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About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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4 Responses to “Holocaust Video Game Designer Seeking Public Funding”

  1. YehudaAlan says:

    sounds liike it could be a teaching tool

  2. Gil Gilman says:

    I find most of these video games as an excuse for violence. At best they are stimulus-response networks and that isn't saying much in their favor. They have nothing to do with the imagination, but an outsider's imaging. Video games can be like Obama…isolationist. You want imagination? Read a book. The best book? The Tanakh. There is space there for an entire world of imagination.

  3. DDay66 says:

    I have seen video games that are far more offensive to Jews than this one sounds. Take a look at the Call of Duty game series, especially the ones made by Treyach. The Nazi theme in these games is big. In fact in the World at War version, it is a depiction of WWII, and in the online multi-player portion, the player sometimes is on the Nazi side fighting as a Nazi against the Allies. Other things include the ability of the player to use the famous Nazi Swatstikaas their personalized emblem so each time a player gets killed (in the game) they are treated to a lovely Swatstika on their screen. It should be known that this is also the best selling game franchise of all time.
    I think it would be good to have a game in which a player can be emersed into a fight against Nazis. Maybe a game about the Jewish partisans for example. Player could become a partisan fighting against the Nazis and conducting covert missions. Sounds pretty good to me.

  4. Yechiel Baum says:

    Is it in German, Arabic, French, British, Russian and rest of the Nazi allies languages?

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