Virtual hit men in Europe’s largest video games market could soon find themselves behind real bars if German regional politicians have their way.
Under new legislation drawn up in reaction to a shooting at a school last month, developers, retailers and players of videos featuring ‘cruel violence’; could face up to a year in jail.
Germany already has fairly strict censorship laws when it comes to computer games and other entertainment media. For example Nazi regalia has to be removed from games, even in cases where the Nazis are the enemies. Furthermore, many games replace enemies with robots or zombies to avoid otherwise harsh classifications.
However this particular move is an order of magnitude more severe, and is little more than an over-reaction. This degree of censorship should be unacceptable in a European country, and hopefully the bill will be seen as such and rejected. It is interesting to note that the ban doesn’t try and cover film, television or books, presumably because it is not possible to scapegoat such media.
It is interesting to note that Germany is not the first EU country to consider the banning of computer games, or a sub-section thereof. In 2002 the Greek government banned all electronic games in a move to attempt to crack down on illegal gambling. Complaints, and intervention from the EU resulted in the clarification of the law, and its eventual suspension.
Note: I should point out that all online sources appear to point back to this FT article. I’m trying to pull up the text of the bill, although given I don’t speak German I’m not sure how easy that will be.
Edited to add: Whoops. Had comments turned off. Not that it matters. Only get spam anyway.