×

Germany Lifts Ban on Nazi Imagery in Video Games

Germany is softening its stance against the use of Nazi imagery in computer and video games, the country’s Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) said on Thursday.

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 purpose or if they depict current or historical events.

The ruling mostly applies to Nazi symbols, which were banned from entertainment software in the 1990s. Previously, video games depicting Nazis as villains had to remove the offensive content before they were sold on store shelves. In the German version of Bethesda’s 2017 first-person shooter “Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus,” for example, the Swastika is replaced with another geometric shape, Hitler’s name is changed to “Heiler,” and his little mustache is missing.

The USK’s ruling now places video games on equal footing with other forms of media that are allowed to use Nazi symbols, like films. The German games industry association Game said it’s actively campaigned for the change for years.

“This new decision is an important step for games in Germany,” said Felix Falk, managing director of Game. “We have long campaigned for games to finally be permitted to play an equal role in social discourse, without exception. Computer and video games have been recognized as a cultural medium for many years now, and this latest decision consistently cements that recognition in terms of the use of unconstitutional symbols as well.”

Popular on Variety

“We in the games industry are concerned about the tendencies we see towards racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination,” he said. “We are strongly committed to an open, inclusive society, to the values laid out in the German constitution, and to Germany’s historical responsibility. 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. The interactive nature of games makes them uniquely qualified to spark contemplation and debate, and they reach younger generations like no other medium can.”

More Gaming

  • Activision-Blizzard-Overwatch-League-Grand-Finals-2018

    YouTube Scores Exclusive Streaming for Activision Blizzard's E-Sports, Including Overwatch and Call of Duty Leagues

    YouTube landed a multiyear deal as the exclusive live-streaming partner for Activision Blizzard’s e-sports events worldwide, including Overwatch League, Call of Duty League, Hearthstone Esports. The agreement (which excludes China) promises to give a big boost to YouTube Gaming, the video giant’s dedicated home for all things related to games. It’s also a loss for [...]

  • Conan Unconquered

    Tencent Bids for Control of Funcom 'Conan' Games Developer

    China’s social media and gaming giant Tencent is bidding to buy control of Funcom, developer of the “Conan” and “Dune” games. The bid values the Norwegian company at $148 million. Tencent already owns 29% of Funcom, and its bid has been unanimously approved by Funcom’s board of directors. No management changes are planned. The shares [...]

  • 100 Thieves

    Esports Organization 100 Thieves Unveils New Facility in Los Angeles

    As of Wednesday, popular esports organization 100 Thieves has an official home in Los Angeles. The group unveiled its new 15,000 square-foot facility, officially named the 100 Thieves Cash App Compound, in a media preview with some of its biggest personalities and owner Scooter Braun on hand. Also in attendance was Jack Dorsey, the CEO [...]

  • Marvel-Strike-Force-FoxNext

    Disney Sells FoxNext Games Unit to Scopely

    Disney has sold off FoxNext Games, the studio it obtained through the purchase of 20th Century Fox, to mobile-games developer Scopely. Terms of the pact were not disclosed. Under the terms of the pact, Scopely is acquiring FoxNext Games Los Angeles, the game studio behind hit game “Marvel Strike Force,” and San Jose-based Cold Iron [...]

  • Call of Duty The Campaign

    Watch the First Episode of New Call of Duty League Docuseries 'The Campaign' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Even a new league comes with history. That’s one of the takeaways from the first episode of “The Campaign,” which follows the Chicago Huntsmen in the lead-up to Activision Blizzard’s new franchised Call of Duty League. Variety is debuting the first episode exclusively, which details some of the narrative that follows the Huntsmen (based in [...]

  • Vindex - Imax

    Imax Jumps Into Esports in Exclusive Pact With Startup Vindex

    Hold on to your popcorn: An Imax location near you could soon be beaming live competitive video-game action onto its big screens. Imax has inked a partnership with Vindex (vindex.gg), an esports infrastructure startup formed by Major League Gaming co-founders Mike Sepso and Sundance DiGiovanni, under which Vindex will create esports events and experiences exclusively [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content