Take a look inside 7 images
Pros: Respectful of the content. Based on real experiences. Rare civilian perspective on WWII.
Cons: Requires some patience. A little clunky in presentation and storytelling. Some iffy content.
Bottom Line: This short, meaningful, and sometimes scary game preserves the first-person history of a woman who survived WWII.
How Can I Teach with This Tool?
In Brukel, players take on the role of a man (the designer of the game) exploring an old farmhouse in Belgium that his grandmother grew up in. Players have a smartphone and explore the house, taking photos of various objects to unlock their grandmother's memories, many of which take place around World War II. Memories feature the grandmother's actual audio recollections focused on the object (like a wash basin) and events related to it (the labor involved in washing clothes prior to electricity). These memories get stored in the phone. This pleasant, fairly slow experience takes a dark turn once night falls. At this point, it becomes a surreal nightmare involving flashbacks to the family's traumatic experiences during WWII, from hiding in a cellar to dealing with drunk soldiers to escaping a burning barn from artillery and gunfire.
Some students may struggle with the horror themes, but it's fairly tame and with no explicit violence or harm. However, one pig is shown on fire, and it's possible to "die" and have to replay a short section. There's also a jump scare about 20 minutes into the game, a gun, and alcohol abuse.
History teachers can have students play Brukel on their own or in pairs, where one student watches and suggests actions. Since it's a bit scary, pairs might work best, but classroom chatter could be an issue once the scares hit. This is also a game that'll work well as an at-home activity. It should take students a little under an hour to finish. In any instructional scenario, students would benefit from a follow-up discussion or writing activity that reflects on and interprets the events of the game and what they say about the horrors of wartime. Brukel's beginnings as a person interviewing their grandparent also mean it'd work well as a lead-in to a family history project. Students could take photos or videos of significant family heirlooms and interview their elders about them, combining it all into a mixed-media presentation.