Swastikas will no longer automatically be banned in German video games

Hitler's toothbrush moustache was digitally removed from the German version of WW2-themed video game Wolfenstein II

Hitler's toothbrush moustache was digitally removed from the German version of WW2-themed video game Wolfenstein II

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".

All computer games sold on storage media in Germany have to be checked by the USK, which issues age ratings, but until now producers whose games contained banned symbols could not even hand them in for assessment, Secker said.

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 objective or if they depict current or historical events. "The law still says, and will for many years say, that flooding the market with Nazi symbols is not something we want - it's forbidden", he clarified.

Although German law allows the depiction of Nazi-themed films and other "art or science, research or teaching", the rules around computer games are a gray area.

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In the German version of the newest edition of the game, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, images of Adolf Hitler were changed to remove his mustache and the swastika was replaced with an alternative symbol in the Nazi flag.

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

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

"This new decision is an important step for games in Germany". "Many games produced by creative, dedicated developers address sensitive topics such as the Nazi era in Germany, and they do so in a responsible way that encourages reflection and critical thinking".

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