Germany Lifts Longstanding Ban on Nazi Symbols in Computer Games

10 August, 2018, 19:44 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Wolfenstein New Order BJ Screen

The Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) said Thursday that games including banned symbols could now be given a rating in Germany if the use of the symbols is considered "socially adequate".

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.

"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.

While German movies and TV shows have long used this artistic exception to depict historical Nazis, a 1998 ruling from the High District Frankfurt Court determined that the exception did not apply to Wolfenstein 3D. But that section of the law has always included a "social adequacy clause" exempting works that "promote art or science, research or teaching, reporting about current historical events or similar purposes".

In particular for children and adolescents, computer games are an attractive and increasingly used form of play. The gaming community have been strong advocates for video games to be treated like films.


When games like that make it to Germany, they usually have to be very careful of Nazi imagery.

In a surprising development, Germany has relaxed its stance on Nazi imagery in video games.

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. In the game, right-wing party representative Alexander Gauland turns into a flying swastika as one of his special moves.

The USK, which was given responsibility for policing content by Germany's youth protection services, also said that games themed on the Nazi era would be subject to an age limit.

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