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Germany: Nazi symbols allowed in video games

Exceptions can now be granted as the USK now judges the artistic or scientific merits.

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Video games in Germany have been banned for using "unconstitutional symbols", such as the swastika or other Nazi symbols up until now, but the ban has been lifted. After an examination conducted by the Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) to give them an age rating instead. The USK has changed its practice in the age rating procedure for games in which marks of unconstitutional organisations such as swastikas are used.

Immediately the social adequacy clause of § 86a Abs. 3 of german Strafgesetzbuch (German law) can be included by the USK committees with the examination of computer games. This allows computer and video games to receive an age rating from the USK, in which the use of characteristics of unconstitutional organisations is judged by the USK committees as socially appropriate. Officially the USK says: "Social adequacy in this context means that symbols of anti-constitutional organisations can be used in a title, provided that this serves art or science, the representation of current events or history. However, nothing has changed with regard to the general prohibition of registration marks in accordance with § 86a StGB. Therefore, a decision on age rating always requires assessment on a case-by-case basis and is not a general exception".

The change was made possible by a change in the legal rulings of the responsible Supreme State Youth Welfare Office, which takes into account the current legal assessments.

Remains to be seen how this will be treated moving forward, but at least the symbols aren't completely outlawed, which should be good news for developers of World War II-themed games as they may not need to censor their games for the German market.