Award for Crysis 2 game sparks controversy | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 28.04.2012
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Award for Crysis 2 game sparks controversy

The first-person shooter Crysis 2 won a major German computer gaming prize. But the decision to award it top honors met with criticism from some politicians who wanted the award to go to a more educational game.

Of high technical and artistic quality, culturally and educationally valuable, diverse and entertaining - those were the criteria a panel of judges used to decide on Germany's best computer game of 2012. The prize was awarded on Thursday to the Frankfurt company Crytek for the first-person shooter game Crysis 2.

The jury said Crysis 2's graphic, acoustic and gaming qualities set it apart from other games in the competition.

Seven types of German-made computer games were honored during the ceremony sponsored by the industry associations BIU and GAME as well as the German government's office for culture and media. The independent jury was made up of gaming industry representatives, journalists, scientists and politicians.

The Crysis logo in the background with a person holding a game controller in the foreground

2012 was the first time a first-person shooter game was nominated for the top award

The prizes' goal was to highlight Germany as an international player in the gaming world and push for the creation of educational games. That goal, however, conflicted with the game that won the top prize, according to some politicians in Germany who said the prize should not have gone to a game that focuses on shooting life-like game characters.

"The prize has been given to a game that glorifies violence," Wolfgang Börnsen, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told DW.

"I think 10 years after the school shooting massacre in Erfurt and the horrible events in Norway that we have to ask ourselves whether we keep lowering the barrier to violence by getting used to it," he added.

Thomas Jarzombek, the CDU's spokesperson for child welfare issues told DW the Crysis 2 did not meet the prize's own criteria.

"I think it is clear that Crysis 2 is not educationally valuable," he told DW.

A boy watching TV

Many wonder how to define what is educationally and culturally valuable

But Jarzombek, who served on the jury, defended the decision and said, "None of the games fulfilled all the criteria."

He added that the jury was given a difficult task of both "doing something good for the German games industry" and honoring "educationally valuable games - even though no one knows what that actually means."

For their part, industry experts said they were not surprised by the jury's choice. In addition to being a commercial success, Crysis 2 has been regarded by the press as among the most innovative and graphically impressive games to come from Germany.

Börnsen, however, said the jury should have put a greater emphasis on the game's content than technical innovation.

Jarzombek countered that the jury was right to look at each of the games it evaluated as a whole.

"What we need are two prizes," he suggested. "We need a sort of audience award that honors the technically complicated and commercially successful games, and we need a second prize to honor the 'most valuable' game."

Author: Anne Allmeling, Rachel Gessat / sms
Editor: Chuck Penfold