On Wednesday 15 May, the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation and the Cologne Game Lab present the results of their joint research collaboration at Park Babelsberg. “Border Zone” is a story-based game app using smartphones or tablets and leveraging the power of augmented reality (AR) technology. The app constructs a seamless connection between history and the present, resurrecting fragments of everyday life during the Cold War and allows to embark on a journey into the era of the German-German division.

Visitors of Park Babelsberg in Potsdam can now become adventurers and explore the park´s eventful history with the story-based game app Border Zone using their smartphones or tablets. The app’s first two interactive missions are set in the former border area of Park Babelsberg. Players explore how life was along the Wall and navigate conflict-laden situations, directly influencing the unfolding story.

Border Zone results from a research collaboration between the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation (SPSG) and the Cologne Game Lab at TH Köln University of Applied Sciences (CGL). As part of SPSG’s ongoing investigation into the potential of games as a medium for public park engagement and cultural education, the game app is a proof of concept for meaningful and sustainable integration.

As a research and development partner, CGL´s core investigations focussed on the dynamic interplay between high-precision location-based technology, the immersive spatiality of augmented reality technology, and the players’ physical interaction with virtual characters, transforming the on-site park visit into a lasting experience.

The game’s fictional scenarios are based on interviews with contemporary witnesses, resulting in a highly personal and authentic experience for players. The historical border fortifications in Park Babelsberg were recreated in 3D for the game so that Border Zone players can experience events along the former border in life-size.

“This collaboration exemplifies the innovative spirit of SPSG and CGL,” states Prof. Dr. Gundolf S. Freyermuth, CGL´s co-director and initiator of the Border Zone project. We are truly honored by the trust and leap of faith shown by our partner institution in embracing experimental technology and game-based, body-centric methods of knowledge dissemination.”

The Border Zone project has been generously funded by the “Neustart Kultur” program of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media since 2021 and by the Commerzbank Foundation since 2022.

The app is now available for free download in the Google Play Store and the App Store!

Find details on the project and the team here.