AuthorJanosch Kindl
SupervisorProf. Gudrun Klinker
AdvisorDavid A. Plecher
Submission Date15.02.2018


Around 2500 students live in Studentenstadt Freimann, Germany's biggest student housing area. Streets and houses around the area are named after people that helped to build Studentenstadt and after members of the World War II resistance group "Die Weiße Rose". This master's thesis illustrates how one can turn contemporary and historical content into a serious game that helps players to gain orientation in Studententstadt and teaches its history. A playable prototype was implemented that enabled a qualitative evaluation with two surveys. The elevation discovered that the inhabitants are more aware of Studentenstadt's historical namesakes than expected, but also that it remains valuable to develop this game, because students need to know more about the legacy of the Weiße Rose and the vision of Studentenstadt. The results demonstrate that players enjoyed the game and suggest that location-based serious games are a good format to introduce Studentenstadt and its history.


Imagine John is an exchange student. He is coming to Munich to study aborad and he will live in Studentenstadt Freimann. John is moving to the Egon-Wiberg-House, named after Egon Wiberg, former president of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, who envisioned the Studentenstadt. John arrives in his new home and feels hungry. He is not sure were to go and heads to the Brotladen, a café in front of his building. While having a snack and drinking a coffee, John notices a poster about the StuStaGame, a location-based serious game that helps players to gain orientation in Studentenstadt and teaches its history. John is fascinated and installs the application that leads him onto a tour showing him the points of interest of Studentenstadt. John is moving his figure in the game world by moving around with his mobile phone in the real world. He visits the library, various bars and learns about the history of Studentenstadt, the vision of Egon-Wiberg and accomplishment of the student resistance group Die Weiße Rose. He ends his tour on the terrace of the Manhattan on top of the Hanns-Seidel-House, where he enjoys a beautiful view over Munich. 'Oh, what's that?', he wonders while seeing a smiley move on the screen. 'Another player?' He taps on it and a chat window opens. "Hello there, I'm John, are you new here?" "Yeah dude, I'm Matt. I just moved in, what are you up to? Wanna conquer some points?" John and Matt meet and embark on a journey and conquer the bars of Studentenstadt by answering questions about the Studentenstadt. They complete their tour with a beer in the Potschamperl, a pub in the cellar of the orange house. John and Matt have not only learned something about the history and the various places Studentenstadt has to offer, but they they got to know a new friend to go on adventures.


With around 2500 student inhabitants, Studentenstadt (StuSta) is Germany’s largest student housing area. Dedicated students maintain numerous facilities including a café, bars, stores and sport grounds, therefore living in Studentenstadt is akin to living in a village. The time of residence is generally restricted to three years and the StuSta has a large number of exchange students, which stay for a single semester. Consequently, the fluctuation is high and around 500 new students move in and out each semester. It would be incredibly difficult to guide every new student through Studentenstadt and few become aware of the Studentenstadt’s history.


There have been several efforts to make the legacy of the Weiße Rose visible in Studentenstadt, but Students are unaware of the available information. For example, under each street sign there is a small biographical description. However, their size is insufficient to convey the essential information about the life of the members of the Weiße Rose. For example, the sign under the Willi-Graf-Straße reads: "Willi Graf, born 1918, member of the student resistance group ’Weiße Rose’, which made a plea for the resistance against the national-socialist dictatorship with several leaflets." This sign cannot capture Willi Graf’s person, for example, serving as medic in the war, or his strong connection to religion. The game is a modern answer to the question, how one would commemorate the legacy of the Weiße Rose today.

Interactive Map

Similar to the game's inspiration Pokémon GO, the players move their figures by moving in the real world. Furthermore the concept of points of interests that can be captured by players was adapted. In contrast there have been additions not present in Pokémon GO to encourage social interaction. Players are able to see each other move on the map and are able to chat with each other.

A comparison of the cartographic data of OpenStreetMap and the finished game. The left map is by the OpenStreetMap contributors, licensed under CC BY-SA.


The tutorial is taking the player by the hand and explaining the basics of playing the game and in addition, helping players, especially those new to Studententstadt, to orient themselves. When the player is close to a point of interest, he or she can tap on its symbol to interact with it. Namesakes tell a short quote and other points display a short information. After having interacted with a point, the next point lights up, so the tutorial guides the player step by step through the point of interests of Christoph-Probst-Straße.

Collectible Leaflets

The base of what made Pokémon GO successful is collecting Pokémon, therefore collectibe leaflets were added as a creative element, in spirit of the Weiße Rose. At the end of the tutorial the players throw a leaflet in augmented reality from the tallest building of Studentenstadt. Players write a tweet-sized 140 character leaflet and see it lying on a ledge in front of them, they swipe it and watch it fall into the atrium. Later players can collect the leaflets that appear at random locations and motivate players to move around in Studentenstadt. Players would presumably not write serious content, therefore translated text passages from the leaflets of the Weiße Rose were added and gave the player insight to the content of the originals.

For clarity, the camera background was changed to a picture by Tobias Klenze, licensed under CC BY-SA.


In the game the ghost of the namesakes come alive and express phrases consisting of translations of original quotes. For example, Hans Scholl talks to the player and says: "Hello, are you new here? What are you studying? I’ve never really known, why I study medicine. What else should you do? There’s neither philosophy right now, nor political science. Freedom, both in choosing a career and a course of study, was my highest principle." Players gain two insights, firstly that Hans Scholl studied medicine and secondly, that he struggled to find a course of study and they might relate to their own life. Hence, these quotes make it easier for students to identify with the namesakes and learn in context.


Having finished the tutorial, players are able to conquer points of interest of Studentenstadt. They can do so in any sequence, thus players explore the Studentenstadt freely. When players interact with a point of interest they see the name of the player, who conquered it last and are able to conquer it themselves by answering quiz questions. In a location-based game, quiz questions can go further than being only textual, because they can take the location into account. For example they are asked, who had the vision for the Studentenstadt and they have to walk to the Egon-Wiberg-Haus. They are asked, in which city Hans Leipelt carried on the city of the spirit of the Weiße Rose and they have to look in the direction of Hamburg.


The evaluation was split into two surveys. The first determined the players knowledge before playing the game and the second evaluated the players learning outcome after playing the game.

Prior Knowledge

Surprisingly players knew more about the namesakes than expected. However, their knowledge was fragmentary and they failed to put important dates into context, when asked to match important events to the dates 1940 to 1945. For example the participants thought that the surrender of the German forces at Stalingrad is close to the end of the war in 1945. Also no clear date solidified for the sixth leaflet of the Weiße Rose. These dates and their relation are important, because the sixth leaflet was written as a response of the surrender in 1943. The surrender became a turning point that awakened the German population from their delusion and raised the critical voice against the national socialist regime. Thus, the reason to make this game remained still valid.

Learning Outcome

The game successfully taught the player about Studentenstadt's history. Things that were well received were the leaflets, dialogs and conquering the points of interests. When asked for feedback, players suggested they would like to fight other players when conquering points of interests, e.g. that they could set up a tricky question for the next conqueror. Players also wished for more dynamic content, e.g. the gmae could display Potschamperl's dish of the day.


The survey passed on the question of this thesis, how one would commemorate the legacy of the Weiße Rose today, to the participants. They had various exciting ideas and suggested for example interactive art installations or organizing a festival. Although all proposals differed they had one thing in common: The way how they would deal with an inherently serious topic as the Weiße Rose was joyful and interactive. From this insight and the positive results of the survey I concluded, that a location-based serious games is a well-suited and contemporary format to introduce Studentenstadt and its history. This master thesis also laid the foundation for future projects that could for example explore the art inside the buildings of Studentenstadt or encourage inhabitants to become a involved in the various facilities.

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