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These games censored or banned in Germany

By Jules “Cael” Seigneur – Modified on 12 Oct 2022 at 17:40

A brief overview of the various video games that have been shot down in midair, or heavily modified, by the German authorities.

Did you know ? While censorship is often associated with totalitarian states, such as North Korea, some European neighbors are true champions of the genre. Thereby, germany has had a Bundesprüfstelle für Jugendgefährdende Schriften, or the “Federal Department of Harmful Media for Youth”. Bless you. Their job is to catalog all content that would exceed the bounds of Germanic decency, and could corrupt their dear darlings. Violence, sex, apology for terrorism… Just very classic criteria. Here are some games that offended the authorities across the Rhine, and suffered the ax of censorship.

#1 Wolfenstein

In order not to offend the German authorities, Wolfenstein had to remove the swastikas – and shave that scum of Adolf

We start strong with an entire saga. Epic Wolfensteininitiated in 1981 with Castle Wolfenstein, takes us back to the Second World War. Naturally, we play a severely burned American who destroys hordes of Nazis. So what’s the concern? Well, let’s say it’s a point in German history that still embarrasses the Teutons… Section 86a of their penal code states that it is prohibited from depicting symbols of “anti-institutional organizations”. A mild understatement. According to the episodes, the Wolfenstein games had to camouflage swastikas with other symbols, or were simply banned.

Since 2018, the rules have been significantly relaxed. It is now possible to represent the Nazi regime as long as one respects “social propriety”. A criterion left to the discretion of USK, the national PEGI. So as long as you offer your players to shoot angry little mustaches, without any possible ambiguity, your game can be sold as is in Germany. For example, the classic Wolfenstein 3Dbanned in 1994, was finally able to get out there in October 2019. There remains one exception: the multiplayer opus Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory was recently delisted from Steam in the land of Berlin. Certainly because you can play on the side of the Americans… or the Nazis. In short, this dark period remains a sensitive point.

#2 Half Life

Half Life

Valve replaced Half-Life’s human enemies with large military robots

No need to include references to the Nazis to undergo Germanic censorship. Sometimes it’s enough to be able kill humans to be worried. This is the case of Half Life. When the Black Mesa Science Center falls victim to a dimensional rift and then an alien invasion, military forces are dispatched by the White House to clean up this mess. Protagonist Gordon Freeman has no choice but to kill them in self-defense.

In Germany, GIs are replaced by military automata. No question of killing soldiers of flesh and blood. It does not prevent you from enjoying this pearl of the FPS, but this censorship is enough to make you laugh (and cry). Team Fortress 2 and Command & Conquer: Generals also found themselves in this scenario.

#3 Mortal Kombat (2011)

mortal kombat 2011

If Mortal Kombat made its fame on its ultraviolence, it did not please German lawmakers

Sometimes the very concept of the game precludes replacing characters with androids. This is the case of mortal kombatwhere each warrior is a piñata of meat to explode with the famous Fatalities. Uprooting of the spine, quartering, evisceration… Even more gory than the tripaille party in Marsouin-sur-Provence. the 2011 reboot wired the USK, which simply refused to rate the game. A real commercial death sentence: without a USK rating, it is illegal to distribute a game in Germany.

Strangely, Mortal Kombat Xeven more violent, was not worried. The reason ? An escalation that goes beyond the realm of the credible. USK decided it was kind of like an Itchy & Scratchy episode in The simpsons, a simple cartoon whose humor is based on the absurd gore side. It’s fun to see how interpretations can differ. Let’s not forget that technological and social developments weigh in the balance…

#4 Dead Rising

Dead Rising 1

Dead Rising’s zombies are too human-like to be accepted…

German censorship sometimes got a little lost in its case law. Thus, if we can understand that violence against others is frowned upon, we must not massacre what “resembles” a human being either. Including the zombies. It drools, it farts and it oozes, but it fits into the boxes. Dead Rising 1, 2 and 3 have therefore been banned. across the Rhine. The caddy slaughtering the living dead didn’t make the USK laugh much…

Fortunately, as with Mortal Kombat, the authorities have learned to relax. Dead Rising 4 could be released legally. Another sign that the censors are gradually becoming more open-minded. But don’t get me wrong: the series is still on the list of “media harmful to minors”… Offering a Dead Rising to your little nephew Helmut is liable to legal action!

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