Brukel is a project by Belgian game designer and professor Bob De Schutter (he lives in the US and teaches at Miami University). It is a dark historical tale that explores the childhood and teenage years of Bob’s grandmother, Bie Verlinden, who was born at the Brukel farmhouse in 1925. Bob interviewed and recorded his grandmother reminiscing about her past at the farmhouse for over 5 hours, and these stories provided the foundation for the game.
The unique design process of Brukel – in which the audio predates everything else – allowed for a game in which every audio fragment is not only authentic, but also spoken in the voice of the person who actually lived through them. Bie’s life story contained a lot of dramatic events, so there never was a need to add any fictional elements to it. While the game is not 100% historically accurate – as some objects had to be reconstructed based on Bie’s verbal descriptions – it is a very accurate subjective representation of the personal memories of a 90 year old lady.
Brukel aims to sensitize today’s generations about the reality of war and the impact that it has on the daily lives of people living on the battlefields. While video games typically present war from the idealized perspective of the heroic soldier, Brukel counters this canon by adopting the perspective of the innocent bystander whose life is torn apart by a war fought by foreigners in her backyard. By doing so, it hopes to generate empathy for refugees of wars across the world.
For the development of the game, Bob mentored a talented group of undergraduate students at Miami University, most of whom had never created a game of Brukel’s scale yet. You can watch the first teaser trailer for the game below and follow the progress of the game on its blog and Twitter account.