Germany lifts strict constitutional ban on Nazi symbols to allow them in video games

  10 August 2018    Read: 1174
Germany lifts strict constitutional ban on Nazi symbols to allow them in video games Screenshot from Wolfenstein: The New Order trailer © Bethesda Softworks / YouTube

Germany has softened its longstanding and strict ban on swastikas and other Nazi symbols, to allow their inclusion in computer and video games, after a heated public debate over the Wolfenstein video game franchise.

The lifting of the ban on Nazi symbols, if used in a “socially adequate” way, was announced by a German industry group on Thursday. The Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK), which is responsible for issuing age ratings for video games, said they will ensure the policy shift doesn’t promote Nazism.

Only those titles that clearly disapprove of Nazi ideology may be allowed to use such unconstitutional symbols, on a case-by-case basis, to better reflect that.

For instance, in the German versions of the famous Wolfenstein series, images of Adolf Hitler had to be altered to remove his mustache and the swastikas replaced with a triangular symbol. The gaming community have been strong advocates for video games to be treated like films.

“Through the change in the interpretation of the law, games that critically look at current affairs can for the first time be given a USK age rating,” said USK Managing Director Elisabeth Secker.

“This has long been the case for films and with regards to the freedom of the arts, this is now rightly also the case with computer and video games.”

The game classification body, which reviews all titles sold in Germany, emphasized that they will continue to act responsibly and scrutinize future video games individually to determine if they qualify for an exemption.

 

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