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Germany relaxes stance on Nazi symbols in video games

Like films, games featuring "unconstitutional" symbols can now be submitted for age-rating in Germany

Germany has softened its stance against video games featuring Nazi symbols. Following a regulatory change, any game tackling the subject can now be assessed by the classification board.

Previously, games like Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus had to be changed to meet a requirement that video games did not feature symbols and themes associated with "unconstitutional organisations" - which, in reality, mostly applied to stories about World War II and the rise and fall of the Nazi party.

However, according to Game, the German games industry trade body, the national authorities will allow the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) to apply age ratings to video games that include such content - "effective immediately."

From now on, video games "that depict symbols of unconstitutional organisations" will be assessed case-by-case by the USK, to decide whether they meet the "social adequacy clause" laid out in section 86 of the German Criminal Code - essentially, that the use of "those symbols serve an artistic or scientific purpose, or depict current or historical events."

Other media, such as film and literature, have been free to include similar content for many years, but this decision marks a change in the standing of video games as a cultural form in Germany.

"This new decision is an important step for games in Germany," said Felix Falk, MD of game, in a statement. "We have long campaigned for games to finally be permitted to play an equal role in social discourse, without exception.

"Computer and video games have been recognised as a cultural medium for many years now, and this latest decision consistently cements that recognition in terms of the use of unconstitutional symbols as well.

"We in the games industry are concerned about the tendencies we see towards racism, antisemitism and discrimination. We are strongly committed to an open, inclusive society, to the values laid out in the German constitution, and to Germany's historical responsibility."

GamesIndustry.biz spoke with Falk about the long-running campaign that culminated in this decision, and what that means for the German games industry. You can read it here.

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