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Vlambeer responds to concerns Luftrausers is about playing Nazi pilots

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Vlambeer today addressed concerns that Luftrausers, its 2D dogfighting game, implies that players are controlling Nazi pilots and aircraft. "From our perspective, we do not cast our player as a Nazi pilot," Studio co-founder Rami Ismail wrote.

"You're not playing existing enemy force, not the Nazis, not the Japanese, not the Soviets, not any force that existed," Ismail said, explaining that Luftrausers "takes place during a fictional and/or alternative reality conflict between the 'good guys' and an undefined foe that we were spying on."

However, Ismail acknowledged the concerns raised earlier this week have some validity. "The fact is that no interpretation of a game is 'wrong,'" he said. "When you create something you leave certain implications of what you're making.

"But even more so in an interactive medium, we do have to accept that no way of reading those implications is 'false' - that if someone reads between the lines where we weren't writing, those voids can be filled by the player, or someone else."

The issue was raised earlier this week and pointed out to Ismail on Friday over Twitter. Ismail said at the time he "was completely missing that that was happening," and promised a reply.

Though many motifs in Luftrausers, from its name (a made-up word) to its logo, may give off the impression that German forces from World War II are involved, Ismail said the game's setting is "in an alternative reality in the 10 to 15 years after the Second World War."

The inspiration for the setting and the game's premise, Ismail wrote, came from an 80-year period "in which military intelligence was capable of determining whether an opposing military force was working on secret weapons, but not quite what those weapons were." Luftrausers is somewhere around the midpoint of that era.

"We do have to accept that our game could make some people uncomfortable," Ismail said, "and we sincerely apologize for that discomfort."

He pointed out that he and his partner at Vlambeer, Jan Willem Nijman, are both natives of the Netherlands, which was invaded by Nazi forces in 1940. "We are extremely aware of the awful things that happened, and we want to apologize to anybody who, through our game, is reminded of the cruelties that occurred during the war," Ismail said.

Luftrausers, launched on March 18 for Linux, Mac, PlaysStation 3, PlayStation Vita and Windows. Ismail said it became profitable in just three days. For more about the game, see Polygon's review, and overview video.

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