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Ban on Nazi symbols is lifted for computer games in Germany


Computer games featuring Nazi symbols such as the swastika could now be sold in Germany after the game classification body lifted the longstanding ban.

A clause in the criminal code that allows such symbols to be used in a ‘socially adequate’ way will now be applied to games just as it is to films, the German Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) said on Thursday.

This means the use of such symbols must be for an artistic or scientific purpose or be used to represent particular events in history.  

Computer games featuring Nazi symbols such as the swastika could now be sold in Germany after the game classification body lifted the longstanding ban

Computer games featuring Nazi symbols such as the swastika could now be sold in Germany after the game classification body lifted the longstanding ban

USK Managing Director Elisabeth Secker added that games which clearly express opposition to the unconstitutional organisation or its ideology, for example, could be considered ‘socially adequate’.

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.

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

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.’ 

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

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

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

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

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

But until now producers whose games contained banned symbols could not even hand them in for assessment, Secker said.

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.

‘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 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.’

Secker added that the general ban on symbols of unconstitutional organisations nonetheless remained in place.

 German laws ban the public use of ‘symbols of unconstitutional organisations’, including the swastika, the Celtic cross, and the Nazi salute – with punishments ranging from fines to three years in prison.



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