The issue was once again brought into the limelight as politicians and gamers debated if a game featuring Nazi material should be doctored in line with German law which prohibits the display of “anti-constitutional symbols” in computer and video games.
Germany’s longstanding ban on Nazi symbols in video games has been lifted, a German industry group announced on Thursday, amid public debate over the Wolfenstein video game franchise.
The Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK), tasked with issuing age ratings for video games, said they will act responsibly to ensure the policy shift doesn’t promote Nazism.
“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,” USK Managing Director Elisabeth Secker said on August 9.
“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.”
Set during World War II, games of the popular Wolfenstein franchise pit players against Nazi forces, and feature swastikas and depictions of Adolf Hitler.
To comply with the law, editions of Wolfenstein and other games featuring Nazimaterial, such as Call of Duty (COD), were doctored by developers to censor any illegal material. This resulted in a number of creative solutions, with developers removing Hitler’s mustache in Wolfenstein II and substituting Nazi flags with blank triangular symbols.
Some Germans insisted such edits worsened gamer experience and urged the federal government to exempt video games from the ban, like films, and other creative and historic works.
The USK will now individually review future video games to see if they qualify for an exemption, or if they still need to censor Nazi material.