Google startup apologizes for including Nazi death camps in Ingress

Niantic Labs forced to close portals in WWII concentration camps

Google startup apologizes for including Nazi death camps in Ingress
Google’s “internal startup” Niantic Labs has found itself embroiled in a morality debate after including Nazi concentration camps as portals in mobile RPG Ingress.

Ingress works by players allowing players to suggest historic locations and monuments – locations which then become battlegrounds for opposing teams to take control of.

These battles don’t take place in the virtual realm, however, but in real life. Ingress requires players to go to a location with your device’s GPS turned on to “claim it.”

Location-based gaming

Die Zeit has reported that some of those sites exist within concentration camps like Dachau and Sachsenhausen – in fact, at one point 74 Ingress portals were active in the latter.

"Out of the 100 comrades in my freight car, 71 died,” said Dachau survivor Jean Thomas who was transported to the camp in 1944 for his involvement in the French resistance.

“They weren’t virtual people. You can’t play games at such symbolic places, it’s scandalous."

Ingress’s location-based gameplay is a biproduct of Niantic Labs’ CEO John Hanke, who previously headed up Google Earth, Maps, and Streetview.

"After we were made aware that a number of historical markers on the grounds of former concentration camps in Germany had been added, we determined that they did not meet the spirit of our guidelines and began the process of removing them in Germany and elsewhere in Europe," Hanke said in a statement.

"We apologize that this happened."

In response to the criticism, Die Ziet reports that Google removed portals from Dachau, however portals at the prisoners’ cemetery still remain active.

News Editor