The Sold Souls or “Being Faust – Enter Mephisto”

I can see through you. Through every human being. Is it true love you’re looking for? Maybe fabulous wealth? If I didn’t get your attention so far, how about the immortality of your soul? Now we’re probably talking. I am here to make all of your dreams come true. And by all, I most certainly mean all of the crazy ones. As a tiny, minuscule exchange, you just have to download my app, agree to the terms and sell me some souls – either yours or the ones of your friends – within an hour and a half. It’s just between you and me, so social conventions and morals do not matter.

Every man has his price – so let’s find out what is yours!

The game scenario is unique. People get together at a certain place and time to become the young Faust himself based on Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s famous novel “Faust”. All they need is a mobile device and the willingness to deal with one of the greatest works of German literature. Before the game starts, people have to choose and rank six out of twelve values. So ask yourself:

Is Love more important than Freedom? Would you choose Fame over Family? Can you give up Pleasure? How important is Beauty and Youth to you? Are they more important than Wisdom?

The chosen values determine the players search in the dimmed room they are going to enter next. There, their host – the devil himself – Mephisto is already waiting. The rules of the game are simple: Read through the many character quotations of the novel on the walls. Buy the ones you feel attracted to and combine them with one of the corresponding values you chose before. You are only able to match the quotes to your values, if you exchange yourself enough money at the Bank of Mephisto. To get money, you must choose some of your friends and decide whose soul you are willing to sell to the devil. Since you agreed to Mephisto’s terms, some of your mobile contacts will appear on the screen. Now it’s time to decide! The devil himself will put a price on the chosen ones. Once you received the receipt and money, the game starts for real: Buy quotes and match them! With every right combination, players earn points and a winner will be determined by the end of the game – the competition is on! During intervals, players can exchange values with each other for a point boost. The terms are only to find someone with similar values. Mephisto himself cannot hesitate to comment those changes publicly – and by that lay bare all parts of the human soul.

“Being Faust – Enter Mephisto” was developed by the Goethe Institute in collaboration with the Korean game developer NOLGONG and the dramaturge Benjamin von Blomberg (Theater Bremen) in 2013. It is a so-called Big Game, “a physical game enriched with online and social media elements”. It aims to motivate players to question themselves and their digital environment, to compare themselves to other players worldwide and to rediscover a masterpiece of literature. Moreover, the project gives an idea of how the digital natives may consume literature in the future. Every generation understands the world around them easily by playing. Whereas older generations got used to memory cards or paper books when they were young, the new generation cannot imagine a life without a digital device – whether to study vocabulary through an app or to read a book for school. To be aware of this and to make use of it, is the future of cultural education. The global presence and success of the project speaks for itself.

What stays after the experience of “Being Faust – Enter Mephisto” is the awareness of the betrayal of friends and family, a journey into the abysses of your own soul. Only the genius himself can make the conclusion on point:

When to the moment then, I say: ‘ Ah stay a while! You are so lovely!’ Then you can grasp me: then you may. Then, to my ruin, I’ll go gladly! (J.W.Goethe)

References:

http://www.goethe.de/ins/kr/seo/prj/fau/deindex.htm

http://www.nolgong.com/nolgong-classics/?lang=en

http://www.der-loewe.info/sind-computerspiele-besser-als-buecher/

http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/German/FaustIScenesIVtoVI.htm

 

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