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Germany relaxes regulations on Nazi imagery in video games

In a landmark move, Germany has made video games featuring "unconstitutional" symbols and themes -- including Nazi imagery -- eligible for release in the region.

In a landmark move, Germany has made video games featuring "unconstitutional" symbols and themes -- including Nazi imagery -- eligible for release in the region. 

Until now, titles such as Wolfenstein II, which features its fair share of Nazi symbology, had to be altered to be even considered for release in Germany. In Wolfenstein's case, that meant switching out the swastika for a fabricated three-pronged emblem, and changing the name Hitler to 'heiler.'

Now though, German authorities have granted the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) the power to issue age ratings to titles containing any such imagery. 

In practice, the decision means the USK will be able to assess relevant games on a case-by-case basis, with the aim of finding out whether a 'social adequacy clause' can be applied. 

In this context, the USK will be able to apply the clause to selected games if the symbols within serve an artistic or scientific purpose, or depict current or historical event. 

Felix Falk, managing director of the German Games Industry Association, has welcomed the move, and believes that games will finally be able to "play an equal role in social discourse."

"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," he commented.

"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."

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