In a surprising development, Germany has relaxed its stance on Nazi imagery in video games. Previously, any game featuring Nazi content, such as Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, had to be changed. If they featured anything associated with “unconstitutional organisations,” alterations would need to be made before the game could be released in that region. However, video games will now be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
National authorities will now allow the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) to apply age ratings to such games. This is an “effective immediately” kind of change. Each game submitted for review will be judged on whether its use of Nazi imagery serves “an artistic or scientific purpose, or depict current or historical events”. This has been the case for other forms of media, such as film, for years now.
For Felix Flak, MD of Game, the German games industry trade body, this is an important step in recognizing video games as a cultural medium. “We have long campaigned for games to finally be permitted to play an equal role in social justice, without exception,” he said when talking about the fight for this change.
Whether this decision means unedited versions of games like Wolfenstein will be released in the region is unknown. More Wolfenstein titles are on their way, however, so we will see how this new decision impacts the future of the franchise.