Czech video game relives drama following Heydrich assassination

'Attentat 1942', photo: archive of Charles University

The Czech educational game ‘Attentat 1942’ about the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia will be competing at the prestigious world Independent Games Festival. The project, developed by Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences, tells a story of the occupation through the eyes of survivors.

'Attentat 1942',  photo: archive of Charles University
‘Attentat 1942’ is not a typical World War II videogame, but rather a historically accurate adventure about the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia in 1942. It combines personal memories, interactive comics and authentic footage, researched and written by professional historians, as well as archival footage from the war.

The game begins when you, the player, learn about your grandfather’s arrest shortly after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, a top ranking Nazi official and the ruler of the occupied Czech lands.

Was he involved in the assassination? Why didn’t he tell the family? And why did he keep it a secret? To discover the untold story of your family and answer the questions, you will have to undergo a long journey, which involves speaking to eyewitnesses, and living their memories. Vít Šisler from the department of New Media at Charles University is one of the people behind the project:

“‘Attentat 42’ is a so-called serious game. It shows life in the protectorate immediately after the assassination of Heydrich, as seen by a number of ordinary people, which is not really common in computer games.

'Attentat 1942',  photo: archive of Charles University
“There are many games that focus on the war, but they usually focus on the action or on battle strategies. But the perspective of the civilian is usually missing in games.”

Unlike in most World War II video games, there are no heroic or spectacular events in ‘Attentat 42’, just stories of common people caught up in unusual times, as recorded by professional historians.

Vít Šisler admits that the game is probably suitable only for a niche market.

“It is a game for a minor audience, since it is not as interactive as normal games. You do have to listen to the survivors’ testimonies and read quite a lot.

“We have translated the game into English and published it on Steam, a major game distribution platform. Our vision is that it could find up to 10 or 15 thousand users all over the world.

'Attentat 1942',  photo: archive of Charles University
“What is important to say is that all the revenues will be used for further development and research.”

According to Mr Šisler, who has been involved in researching video games and their educational purposes, games such as ‘Attentat 1942’ have proven to be a very successful tool in teaching history.

Research has shown that those who experience historical situations by playing such video games remember the facts better than those who learn about them from regular textbooks. ‘Attentat 1942’ is the first game in a larger project called Czechoslovakia 38-89, which covers different events from contemporary history.