Design & Emotion Blog

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How a game can make you cry (and you are not losing)…

Through The Escapist

The object of Train is to get a collection of people from Point A to Point B by placing them in a boxcar and sending them on their merry way. Played among a group of three people, players draw cards from a pile that can impede other players or free them from existing obstacles. The first player to reach the end of the line wins.

The destination? Auschwitz.


The “game” doesn”t stop there, however. The game board, pictured above, is an allusion to Kristallnacht – Designer, Brenda Brathwaite explained that she needed to break a fresh piece of glass each time she “installed” her work in a new location to properly evoke the violence of the experience. She even typed the game’s instructions on an actual SS typewriter, which she purchased solely for that purpose.

There were audible gasps in the audience when Brathwaite revealed Train‘s shocking conclusion at the Triangle Game Conference; one attendee was so moved by the experience that she left the conference room in tears. But Brathwaite’s intention wasn’t to invite controversy – she wanted to create a game that affected people deeply.

As a game is something so different from just looking at a history book, you can expect to reach people earlier on a more emotional level, as they least expect it in a game setting. Playing also makes people relate to actual behaviour and reality. Therefore, games can be a very powerful tool to teach and to evoke certain emotions that need to be felt to understand specific historical events or just events in general. I can imagine that this is even more true for computer games which can make it seem even more like reality.

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