Google Subsidiary Apologizes For Including Concentration Camps In Mobile Game

(screenshot via Die Zeit)

(screenshot of the Arbeit Macht Frei slogan, “Work Means Freedom,” seen at many concentration camps via Die Zeit)

It can be a good thing for game developers to include real-life sights in the unreal world of video games, but there are cases where such inclusions are simply unacceptable. This was the case for a unit of Google, which has apologized after including Nazi concentration camps as “portals” in a mobile role-playing game.

Players of Ingress by internal Google start-up Niantic Labs can suggest historic locations and monuments to be included in the game, which are then battled over by opposing sides to take control. These aren’t just images — Ingress takes place in the real world — you go to a location with your phone’s GPS on to “claim” it. That means players would actually be playing the game on their smartphones at those sites.

But after German weekly Die Zeit reported today that some of those sites — called “portals” within the game — were located within concentration camps like Dachau, Sachsenhausen and a slew of others.

“All of us here are completely appalled,” the head of the Sachsenhausen Memorial told Die Zeit. “This is most definitely no place for video games.”

The diirector of the memorial site at Dachau also reportedly told the dpa news agency that Google’s actions were a humiliation for victims and relatives of the Nazi camps, the Associated Press reports, prompting Niantic Labs — a subsidiary of Google — to offer an apology for the inclusion of those sites.

The founder of Niantic Labs told the AP in a statement that the company has started the process of removing the offending locations from the game, and that “we apologize that this has happened.”

When Google plays games in a concentration camp [Die Zeit]
Google unit sorry for including concentration camps in game [Associated Press]