For the Record: Spiegel Online notices the “Stalin issue”
Source: Spiegel website Hello everyone, those of FTR readers, who hail from Germany will definitely know Der Spiegel – one of the major German newspapers/magazines. Well, it looks like this magazine noticed the Stalin issue on the forums. It’s take on the whole matter is a bit different. For those, who don’t speak German, the articles says (not a totally correct translation, Im bit in a hurry atm, feel free to correct me): 30 million registered players, earnings counting in millions, branches all over the world: the online-shooter “World of Tanks” is one of the most successful free-to-play games. But now it is divided by a dispute over stalinist logos. On the World of Tanks forums, a thousand-post long discussion happened over the implementation of historically correct stalinist logos, with a few good and a lot of bad arguments on both sides. The point is: World of Tanks is an online shooting gallery, where human players in tanks hunt each other. The individual tanks can be decorated with symbols and inscriptions – soon also stalinist ones: “Stalinist, For Stalin, For the Motherland” These inscriptions were already before available on Russian server, where the game is played. Now, they are to be unlocked also on other, worldwide servers. In order not to break national law, the symbols of the Axis powers will however not be unlocked, as stated on the webpages of the game developer Wargaming.net. The reason for the decision: While Josef Stalin is not an uncontroversial personality of history, and to many his conduct is seen with strong feelings and severity, his contributions to overcoming the forces of fascism threatening Europe and the world during the middle of the 20th century as well as his role as a leader in the anti-Hitler coalition is not disputed by Wargaming. As such we are sympathetic and understanding to the possibility that some members of our global gaming community might feel offended by the name Josef Stalin, yet we stand committed to the authentic depiction of that era. As such, we will not remove from our games any historically accurate content that is not prohibited by international or national law. On the forums and game blogs, a conflict over this decision started burning, that counts the weight of the crimes of European fascism and the historical dimensions of of Stalinism: who was worse, Hitler or Stalin? What is forgotten: in Russia, stalinism experiences renaissance for years: it’s historical role is partially disputed, even Vladimir Putin points out the “historical necessity” of stalinism. On historical computergames and their forums, memory cultures collide. Especially in the Polish World of Tanks community is the new “stalinism” fiercely debated, the supposedly neutral design decision is considered “hurtful”. It goes the other way around too: this is how the representation of Soviet soldiers in the US computergame “Company of Heroes 2″ was disputed – they were considered as clichés and parody. The relationship between the two disputes in both computergames is described by karasugames.de portal. The conflict is long overdue. The representation of history in computer games was until now too naive. The new fight for interpretation of history, neutrality claims and memory culture could move the computer game medium forward – if everyone takes part in the discussion about the role of (in this case historical) games as tools and thought patterns for the understanding of the world.