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segfault

Germany Lifts Ban on Nazi Imagery in Video Games

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https://www.timesofisrael.com/germany-lifts-ban-on-nazi-symbols-in-video-games/

 

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BERLIN — Computer and video games can include swastikas and other Nazi symbols, a German industry body said Thursday, after a heated debate over the “Wolfenstein” franchise in which gamers battle Third Reich forces.

 

The game was previously deemed to have fallen foul of the German criminal code, which bars any depiction of so-called “anti-constitutional” symbols, including Nazi swastikas.

 

Accordingly in “Wolfenstein II,” images of Adolf Hitler were doctored to remove his mustache and the swastika in the Nazi flag was replaced with a triangular symbol.

 

This sparked an uproar in the gaming community, prompting calls for games to be treated like films.

...

 

The Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) said video games will in future be examined as to whether they constitute such exceptions.

 

The industry body, which is responsible for providing age ratings on video games, made the decision after it was tasked to determine what is socially permissible in video games by Germany’s youth protection services.

 

“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 Elisabeth Secker, USK managing director.

 

“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,” she said.

 

TL;DR: Video games are now being given the same consideration for exemption from the Swastika ban as other forms of art.

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So, the German release of the Original Doom would now include the Nazi Swastika?(I know the game's too old for that, but, still worth it.)

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It could, if the USK decides that the use of Nazi imagery is appropriate given greater context. Same goes with Wolfenstein 3D or any game with Nazi imagery (Persona 2 comes to mind).

 

I like to think the German version of Wolfenstein 2 spurred this on because the censorship in that was absolutely farcical, particularly the depiction of Not Hitler.

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Posted (edited)

Wasn't there something in a treaty for losing World War II that specified Germany can never have Nazi imagery in the country again? I only mention it as I knew someone who was incarcerated and fined for doing the goosestep in Germany despite not being German. When he was being processed, the lawyer explained that it's the treaty why Germany doesn't allow it. Of course that didn't stop everywhere else from using it.

 

... so Swastikas are now allowed in video games, but not a red cross.

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4 minutes ago, geo said:

Wasn't there something in a treaty for losing World War II that specified Germany can never have Nazi imagery in the country again? I only mention it as I knew someone who was incarcerated and fined for doing the goosestep in Germany despite not being German. When he was being processed, the lawyer explained that it's the treaty why Germany doesn't allow it. Of course that didn't stop everywhere else from using it.

 

... so Swastikas are now allowed in video games, but not a red cross.

There's exceptions for works of art or for historical projects (e.g. documentaries). Basically, if you're using Nazi imagery to show the horrors of the Nazi regime it's legal.

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1 minute ago, segfault said:

There's exceptions for works of art or for historical projects (e.g. documentaries). Basically, if you're using Nazi imagery to show the horrors of the Nazi regime it's legal.

Yeah and I guess this would fall into the works of art category. Thus proving games as art... rather than a medium that encompasses all forms of art.

 

So by using Nazi imagery to show the horrors of the Nazi regime... could there be caveats then? Like if the game lets you play as a Nazi... that's a no? Or it needs to show how Nazi's murdered civilians and others... before you can have your fun playing the game?

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I guess we'll have to wait and see how they handle it. My guess is that this censoring started to have an adverse effect by emphasizing the things they wanted to be kept under the rug.

 

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1 hour ago, geo said:

Yeah and I guess this would fall into the works of art category. Thus proving games as art... rather than a medium that encompasses all forms of art.

 

So by using Nazi imagery to show the horrors of the Nazi regime... could there be caveats then? Like if the game lets you play as a Nazi... that's a no? Or it needs to show how Nazi's murdered civilians and others... before you can have your fun playing the game?

I'm really not certain, but I think that given how games often involve role-playing that it's a tough question to tackle compared to other forms of art. I reckon the line that would be drawn would involve celebrating, praising, or whitewashing the Nazi regime, but what does that mean exactly? Would playing as Hitler in Hearts of Iron be forbidden?

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2 hours ago, MTF Sergeant said:

So, the German release of the Original Doom would now include the Nazi Swastika?(I know the game's too old for that, but, still worth it.)

Probably not. You can make the argument for Wolf 3D, but the two secret levels in Doom II are just an Easter egg and therefore arguing that there is an artistic merit to their inclusion is much harder.

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2 hours ago, geo said:

... so Swastikas are now allowed in video games, but not a red cross.

 

Swastikas are a historical political symbol.

 

Red crosses are a trademarked logo of an active corporation.

 

Totally different situations.  id had to remove the red crosses for the same reason they wouldn't be allowed to include the Nike tick or the MacDonald's golden arches.

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54 minutes ago, Bauul said:

 

Swastikas are a historical political symbol.

 

Red crosses are a trademarked logo of an active corporation.

 

Totally different situations.  id had to remove the red crosses for the same reason they wouldn't be allowed to include the Nike tick or the MacDonald's golden arches.

True. Totally different situation.

2 hours ago, segfault said:

I'm really not certain, but I think that given how games often involve role-playing that it's a tough question to tackle compared to other forms of art. I reckon the line that would be drawn would involve celebrating, praising, or whitewashing the Nazi regime, but what does that mean exactly? Would playing as Hitler in Hearts of Iron be forbidden?

 

I thought white washing was taking non white characters and making them white. At least that's what I get when I read about "whitewashing Hollywood."

 

Call me hateful, intolerant or American patriotic, but I'm fine if I never see anymore Nazi symbols around. They had cool colors, curb stomped Europe quickly, but I'm happy the world exterminated them.

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1 hour ago, geo said:

I thought white washing was taking non white characters and making them white. At least that's what I get when I read about "whitewashing Hollywood."

 

Whitewashing, literally, is covering something with lime paint. Figuratively, it took a first meaning of "hiding the stains", which you will find in expressions such as "whitewashing history". Here the idea is to omit or transform uncomfortable facts about the past. It also took a second meaning, specifically  in the entertainment industry, where it is as you say, the practice of making characters white even though they originally weren't. There are also other derivative terms, such as greenwashing or pinkwashing.

 

So whitewashing the Nazi regime basically means trying to make it appear not as bad as it actually was. A very common target for that is Rommel, the "Desert Fox". Extreme attempts at whitewashing the Nazi regime include Holocaust denials.

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The use of Nazi symbolism is still strictly prohibited and we germans actually take this very seriously. Videogames are just one more exception to the rule, since of course you can use Nazi symbolism in a historical and annotated context (as in documentaries, etc.). Of course you could argue that Wolfenstein is exactly that (showing the hideous crimes of the Nazi regime instead of glorifying them) but since Videogames where still something quite new, when Wolfenstein came out, they just went the safe route and banned it outright. Shows you how slow the german government works, that only 30 years later they finally reached a decision on how to tackle this problem.

 

Of course Nazi symbols are still banned on products that glorify them. And the question of "is it acceptable to actually play as a Nazi soldier / Hitler" is also an interesting one. In my opinion it should also be banned, because it glorifies or has the potential to glorify the cruelties of the Nazi regime. The case with people doing the goose step or even "heil Hitler" gesture (as with two chinese tourists recently) and getting punished accordingly, well... that's just law. If you are in germany the law counts for you as well, even if you are not a german.

 

All this may sound silly to some, but bear in mind, that this is just to prevent this from happening again. To educate people. To learn from it and be better. Germany is one of the very few countries that actively try to confront their history.

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I think this is a good move overall. Censorship breeds persecution complexes which leads to radicalism. I don't want this to get too political though so I'll leave it at this.

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5 hours ago, Bauul said:

 

Swastikas are a historical political symbol.

They were religious symbols before their political use though. ;)

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