Freedom is not free: can you outsmart an oppressive regime? Play a DW game to find out | Digital culture | DW


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Life in Berlin is suffocating: Secret police and traitors are everywhere. No more discussing politics or checking the news online. An authoritarian regime has reigned in parts of Europe since the millennium bug caused widespread blackouts and unrest. You befriended Alissa and Mia, two freedom activists from Berlin at a conference. Now Mia is gone. You live in a free zone with internet available to you. Answer Alissa’s call for help in your chat and find Mia. #freedomsntfree

let’s play

Play on Facebook Messenger:

Play on Telegram:

Facebook Messenger (left), Telegram (right)

freedom is not free is based on a bot text adventure; a game to play on messaging apps such as Telegram and Facebook Messenger. The player enters a chat and is asked for help in solving tasks such as finding the best route to a meeting place. Players search for information online, which their chat partner cannot because they live in an unfree society. While playing, the user understands the constraints and difficulties that his interlocutor faces due to the reign of the repressive regime. A chat bot with an artificial intelligence system animates the conversation. Its machine-learning algorithm allows the bot to improve its conversational skills with each gaming experience.

DW Messenger Game - Freedom Is Not Free

Transfer of information in games

Unbiased information for free spirits

Deutsche Welle (DW) provides journalistic content in 32 languages, giving people around the world the opportunity to form their own opinion. DW aims to foster a peaceful and stable global community. Therefore, DW’s reporting often focuses on topics such as freedom and human rights.

Beyond journalistic reports, a game is a way to engage and interest people emotionally. Playing a game provides an interactive learning experience. The player tries, experiments and also fails. This makes it easier to understand complex issues than just consuming information. The so-called serious games aim to entertain and convey difficult subjects such as death and mourning or the Third Reich.

To create a serious game on a low budget, a small team of journalists from Deutsche Welle collaborated with game experts from the DE:HIVE Game Hub at HTW – Berlin University of Applied Sciences.

The Game Matters

The DE:HIVE Games Lab at HTW Berlin combines research, teaching and entrepreneurship. Researchers, founders and students work on the theme of games and their social and artistic perspectives. Funded as part of the cross:play project, DE:Hive gaming experts were able to work on the messaging game with DW publishers. How can language-based interaction formats be used in journalistic work? This was one of the questions the team wanted to answer using the example of this messaging game.

DW Messenger Game - Freedom Is Not Free

freedom is not free

A DW game in cooperation with the DE:HIVE Game Hub of HTW Berlin, funded as part of the cross:play project by:

cross:play project partner logos

The team

Philippe Kretschmer (Chief Game Developer and Producer): Freelance journalist working for DW Digital

Lenja Kaufmann (Game Developer): Freelance game developer and programmer

Anna-Lena Klapdor (Script & worldbuilding): screenwriter and story developer

Wafaa El Badry (Scenario & world-building): DW journalist

Maximilian Warsaw (Game Developer): Game Design Creative Assistant at HTW Berlin

Stefanie Suren (Executive Producer): Head of DW Digital


DW Producer Team ([email protected])
/cross:play: Anna Hentschel ([email protected])


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