Germany lifts ban on Nazi imagery for gaming

Programs that prove ‘socially adequate’ relevance can include swastikas

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, August 13, 2018. (photo credit: BETHESDA SOFTWORKS)
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, August 13, 2018.
(photo credit: BETHESDA SOFTWORKS)
The German software regulator has announced that it is loosening restrictions on using Nazi emblems in video games.
Instead of a blanket ban, the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body, abbreviated in German as USK, said last week that such symbols – including the swastika – would be allowed in context. The German legal code outlaws “use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations” which includes the swastika, the Celtic cross and many other SS insignia.
From now on, the exception granted to films and TV shows will be extended to video games as well.
“Thus, computer and video games may be given a rating by the USK if the use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations is assessed as socially adequate,” said USK managing director Elisabeth Secker. “In this context, ‘socially adequate’ means that [a symbol] ... can be used if it serves an artistic or scientific purpose or helps depict current events or history.”
Secker added that games which clearly express opposition to such organizations could be considered “socially adequate.”
The rule change comes after a controversy earlier this year over the video game “Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.” The game takes place in a fictional 1961 Germany after the Nazis won World War II. In Germany, the game was released with certain changes made, including removing Hitler’s mustache and replacing the swastikas with a different symbol.
“This new decision is an important step for games in Germany,” said Felix Falk, managing director of GAME – the German Games Industry Association – in a statement. “We have long campaigned for games to finally be permitted to play an equal role in social discourse, without exception... 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.”