Germany gives nod to depiction of Nazi symbols in video games

Blanche Robertson
August 10, 2018

The Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) said video games will in future be examined as to whether they constitute such exceptions.

The country, which has been previously infamous for heavy censorship of video games reaching their citizens from across borders, faces innumerable issues in reinforcing these laws as the industry globalizes to a further degree each year; this change in the USK's practice doesn't necessarily indicate a victory against censorship as a whole, rather continued evidence of the worldwide debate of video games as a medium of art dipping further towards the affirmative.

The lifting of the ban on Nazi symbols, if used in a "socially adequate" way, was announced by a German industry group on Thursday.

German laws ban the public use of "symbols of unconstitutional organisations", including the swastika, the Celtic cross, and the Nazi salute - with punishments ranging from fines to three years in prison.

Because movies are deemed works of art, they are exempt from the ban, similar to material used in research, historical or scientific purposes.

Other games to undergo censorship in Germany for their use of Nazi symbols include "Call of Duty: Black Ops", "South Park: The Stick of Truth" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade". Computer games will now be assessed in the same way.

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In the wake of that ruling, game publishers have had to make significant edits to numerous games for release in Germany, sometimes to a ridiculous degree.

Accordingly in Wolfenstein II, images of Adolf Hitler were doctored to remove his moustache and the swastika in the Nazi flag was replaced with a triangular symbol.

The double standard between video games and other media has also lead to some interesting juxtapositions.

In a surprising development, Germany has relaxed its stance on Nazi imagery in video games. In the game, right-wing party representative Alexander Gauland turns into a flying swastika as one of his special moves.

"This new decision is an important step for games in Germany", said Felix Falk, managing director of Game. "Many games produced by creative, dedicated developers address sensitive topics such as the Nazi era in Germany, and they do so in a responsible way that encourages reflection and critical thinking".

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