Thanks to Sander B. for this info (guys, leave nicknames when you write me :) )
Source: official Munster web pages (in German)
today I wrote an article about the RU251 and the negative attitude of Munster (and other German institutions) towards World of Tanks. What I didn’t know was – there is even an official Panzermuseum Munster statement (link above) regarding World of Tanks. I will translate it from German then (not literally, but to keep the meaning). Some parts I ommitted, as they basically repeat the same – if any German would be so kind to translate it better (did my best), I will be glad to fix my own translation. Also, keep in mind this was written some time ago, apparently after the great accuracy buff last year, in April/May.
Tank Museum and World of Tanks – a complicated relationship
In May, the tank history in the museum will be experienced in a different way: there will be cheer, laugh, hundreds of tanks will be destroyed for the general happiness and fun. In the May weekend, company Wargaming will build a promotion stand here. In this stand, their game (and the mainstay of the entire company) “World of Tanks” (furthermore only WOT) will be advertised and available for playing on like a dozen computers.
………. (explanation of what WoT is)
In principle, World of Tanks brings only such content, that goes directly against the values (SS: literally statements) the tank museum tries to convey:
- clinically clean battlefield: you cannot see any people, be it soldiers or civillians. Pain and suffering, death and mutilation, that’s no problem. The war is only a “tag, you’re it!” game and when your tank gets destroyed, you hear them say stuff like “This vehicle had it, let’s get out”. Only occasional statements, such as “they killed our driver” indicate that there’s a war going on after all.
- tanks without other weapon systems: the tank cannot historically be separated from all the other possible weapons and units – infantry, air support, logistics etc. Nothing of that is here. Only tanks and tank destroyers roll over an empty battlefield. Only the artillery plays a role, but in the end only as an indirect fire tank, that just stands a few meters further behind.
- a single tank decides: From historical point of view, the tanks are relevant only in numbers. It was the tank units, that were operatively decisive. The best example for this is the blatant performance difference between the allied tanks and the Panzers in France in 1940. Even though the platoons and companies (multiplayer units in WOT) have in fact a higher chance to win the battle, the majority of the millions of daily players consists of individual players – and their skills then decide the battle.
- Seeming predictability: WOT is based on a computing model. A big complex computing model, that has to perform two things: on one hand it has to produce a taste of historicity, on the other hand it has to offer balanced and fair gameplay. However, many players take only the first part as true. They actually believe that Wargaming’s arbitrary fixed values can reflect the “reality”, which is by definition a nonsense, but in the context of the balancing issues, this is completely outrageous. In the last patch, French artillery was made much more accurate – how is that possible, when the values are “historical”? Doesn’t matter, the fans don’t mind and thus the line of thinking that you can actually get a historical tank through pure data is yet again reinforced.
- Heavier and bigger means better: that was long the formula, used for the levelling in WOT. The game suggested that heavy and big tanks were the logical “end” of an “evolution” and contrary to this, small, light tanks were only the starting point of this evolution. This mindset can of course only work because of the “single tank decides” point of this list. In the historical overall context of production, logistics, maintenance and doctrines, noone, capable of differential thinking, would seriously argue that the King Tiger is a better tank than for example the T-34. You can only come to such conclusion, when you think in terms of tank duels in empty space – and that’s exactly what WOT does. This way of thinking was somewhat mitigated by the inclusion of several post-war medium tanks as high tiers, but it still is prevalent.
- techno-fetishism without real background: WOT makes people think in through its “tech-trees” that everything can be installed in everything. There are certain limitations in the game, but the inclusion of the weirdest prototypes of guns and turrets and of tanks existing only on paper right next to the mass-produced tanks, such as the Panzer IV and T-34 make people think that in WW2, they just “combined the stuff wrong”. The War is depicted as a McDonalds Menu – if you use wrong combination, it’s your own fault.
- loss of historical context: the absence of any historical context whatosever creates the false impression that the machines of war can be considered separatly from their historical purpose of use.
……… (here, the author mentions the fact there are no historical or national battles in WoT, but that’s no longer true)
All in all, World of Tanks brings to millions of people exactly the opposite message that we want to convey. Why do we then allow this virtual enemy of ours to enter our house? Does the Panzermuseum give up its approach up to look at tanks, war and violence critically?
Not at all.
The logic is very simple. We cannot prevent World of Tanks from spreading its primitive depiction of history anyway. It happesn globally 24/7. What can we then do? Earlier, the Museums as “temples of education” turned up their noses and focused only on the “right” audience. We do believe however, that this approach is no longer helpful. We use another approach: we appeal to the audience of this game by bringing them into the Museum with the support of WOT.
These players, interested in tanks, are brought to the museum throught the Wargaming event. Here, they encounter also the historical original tanks and here, they also encounter (just a little, but soon, a LOT more) history education, that brings the objects in the game into the interesting, but also irritating and critical context, that makes you think. That invites you to question the WOT-designs and perhaps it even makes the players read a book about gun calibers and turret ring diameters, while the live guide in the museum, the text and the audioguide makes them think as well. Maybe they will think about the fact that the game simulates vehicles, the meaning of which was pain, death and destruction. When at least one player in one hundred gets to think this way, we have already achieved something.
What we do here is damage control upon the image of history as well as we can by addressing this target group actively and friendly, so that they become fans of the museum and can begin with the history education.
Chief of Research Department,
The letter itself is longer, but I think you catch the drift. Munster takes the history very, very seriously and after reading this – hell, no wonder they don’t want Wargaming to conduct any “research” there.