Movies and television shows have been vehicles of thought-provoking historical fiction for decades. Meanwhile, the vast majority of video games about real events have focused on action-packed battle scenes and military strategy. Imagination is the Only Escape will be the first game to focus on the human element of one of the world’s worst atrocities: the Holocaust.
Understanding the mental toll the Holocaust took on the victims — especially children — is pivotal in a global society. 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.
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.” Video games are often seen as meaningless distractions for children, but Imagination has the opportunity to blaze a trail for other games that look to tackle controversial, but important topics.
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.
The story follows Samuel, a young Jewish child who is trying to escape the horrors of the Nazi occupation. He creates a mysterious world in his mind in order to escape reality. You will play as him throughout his childhood during the occupation of France by Nazi Germany.
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. Samuel trusts her because it’s his only hope to see his mother alive.
Imagination is the Only Escape is a educational adventure game for iOS, Android, PC, Mac and Ouya. Unlike other games set during thatperiod the player will feel how it is to be a vulnerable child.
"Video games can be an excellent medium to educate players, particularly children, about topics that might be too dry or overwhelming for them to learn another way. Given the alarming number of people who believe the Holocaust to be a hoax, Bernard's game seems like an especially good idea."
"Books, TV shows and movies are all "allowed" to talk about the Holocaust. Video games deserve to do so as well. When a game like Imagination Is The Only Escape, which doesn't even promote a sliver of violence, is considered too risque', it only shows how prehistoric everybody's views on games are, and highlights just how badly things need to change if we ever want to see companies bold enough to bring us more than Madden and a hundred FPS'."
Personally, I think this is absurd. As a kid, I was fascinated by the Holocaust, and I think making this material more accessible for children is more than a good idea; it's downright essential. If this is the only way some people will learn about something so important as the Holocaust, then this game should absolutely see the light of day. Not to mention I find it incredibly hard to stomach that a game educating people about the events of the Holocaust is under fire, when there are so many games glorifying the violent aspects of the war.
"Imagination Is The Only Escape is a game we should all be backing, even if the odds are against it. We should be showing the world and letting companies like Nintendo know we want games to tackle a wide and interesting variety of subject matter. Games can be brave and daring as well, and we should be daring enough to give them a chance."
Still, such games with higher messages are desperately needed in an industry clamoring for respect. If Imagination truly lives up to its potential, then it is exactly the type of game that needs release in the US.
Luc Bernard is an independent Videogame Director currently living in New York City. He has worked as a design consultant on Pocket God: The Runs, and has also contributed to many other titles, including Reaper, SteamPirates and the critically acclaimed Mecho Wars. Mecho Wars was lauded by critics as an engaging, beautiful, groundbreaking game in the turn-based-strategy genre. In 2010, the game was nominated in the Best Handheld Audio category during the Game Audio Network Guild Awards. Luc’s games can be played on a variety of formats, ranging from iPhone to PlayStation 3. With an incredibly unique visual style and a passionate attitude toward direction, Luc has a wonderful approach to modern gaming. The experience of discovery and exploration is inspiring to him, and he strives to leave a lasting impression on his audience.