Germany Lifts Ban On Nazis Imagery In Video Games

Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler is seen without a mustache in the German version of the video game “Wolfenstein II.”

When a game is submitted to the USK for an age rating, the regulatory body will determine if it satisfies the "social adequacy clause" in section 86 of the German Criminal Code.

For the version of the game sold in Germany, Hitler's famous mustache was digitally removed and swastikas were replaced with triangular symbols.

The USK will now assign age ratings to games that depict symbols of "unconstitutional organizations" on a case-by-case basis, as long as they serve an artistic or scientific goal or if they depict current or historical events.

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. Now video games will be given the same treatment as movies: As works of art, they will be exempt from the ban on swastikas.

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

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This was not the only game to be censored under German rules for their use of Nazi symbols as so were "Call of Duty: Black Ops, ' 'South Park: The Stick of Truth" and 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'.

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

In a landmark move, Germany has made video games featuring "unconstitutional" symbols and themes - including Nazi imagery - eligible for release in the region.

It comes after the controversy in Germany over the censorship of the shooter game "Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus", which is set in a fictional 1961 where the Nazis won World War Two. That decision laid the groundwork for a similar ruling by Germany's Supreme Youth Protection Authority of the Federal States, which in turn led to USK's newly announced policy.

For Felix Flak, MD of Game, the German games industry trade body, this is an important step in recognizing video games as a cultural medium.

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