The famous story of Anne Frank and her family's life in hiding from the Nazi regime has now turned into an interactive computer game created by Kira Resari, a German game designer who created the experience to "facilitate empathy" rather than trivialize the Holocaust, according to German news source, Deutsche Welle.
Nevertheless, as players in the "Anne Frank" game make small choices like fetching a bag of potatoes from the attic or controlling the amount of noise she makes as she climbs the steps, one questions whether the game has gone too far in minimizing the importance of these life threatening choices.
But Resari argues that the opposite is true.
"Many think computer games are first and foremost entertaining. But they can be more than that. They can facilitate empathy," he said. "Movies and books also address difficult topics. Why should this be forbidden for computer games?"
Resari refers to his "Anne Frank" project as an "interactive experience," rather than a game. He wants to recreate the atmosphere in hideout so that the user can best relate to the way Anne Frank must have felt.
In this way the game doesn't offer any opulent 3D graphics or booming sound effects. The overall visual appearance could be described as simple and rather dismal, punctuated by quiet, melancholic piano music.
"It's not really about having fun," Resari said. "Instead of action I want to create emotions. What does it feel like to live in 50 square meters with seven people and a cat? The game places special emphasis on social relations."
When reading Anne Frank's diary, Resari had many questions. "I was wondering what the residents did all day long in the rear house," he muses, saying that he wants to fill in the blanks with his interactive experience.
Resari traveled to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam to research the making of this game for his bachelor thesis project. It was inspired by a professor challenging his students to create a "meaningful" game.
In "Anne Frank" Resari doesn't let the users change the course of history. The user can't change that the Franks have to live in hiding or keep them from being discovered and deported. All the player can do is change the little events in Anne Frank's daily life in order to better relate to her.
"Anne Frank" is still a prototype, and Resari doesn't plan to commercially market it. Instead, he hopes it can be used as an interactive way to teach this particular piece of history.