Ban on Nazi symbols is lifted for computer games in Germany

Elias Hubbard
August 10, 2018

In Germany, the swastikas were replaced with triangle symbols and Hitler's moustache was removed.

Now they will be able to hand them in - as long as they point out that they contain unconstitutional symbols - and the USK's independent classification committees will then decide on a case-by-case basis whether to allow the games to go on sale.

The law itself is not being changed - the public display of Nazi and other banned symbols remains illegal - but it is being newly interpreted by this industry.

"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", says Felix Falk, the managing director of BIU, the German Games Industry Association.

The uncensored and German censored versions of Hitler and the Nazi flag.

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

All computer games sold on storage media in Germany have to be checked by the USK, which issues age ratings.

The alterations to the game had sparked uproar in the gaming community, which said games should be treated like films.

When games like that make it to Germany, they usually have to be very careful of Nazi imagery. While the regulations weren't strictly made to tackle Nazi iconography, they usually resulted in games with Nazis or stories focused on World War II being denied release in Germany. Before now, video games were not considered under the definition of art, but changing attitudes towards the medium has resulted in a tensive introduction of previously banned themes.

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. In the game, right-wing party representative Alexander Gauland turns into a flying swastika as one of his special moves. Furthermore, the attorney general said that the 1998 Wolfenstein decision was "outdated", in part because it predates the introduction of age ratings in 2003.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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