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Youth protection, censorship & culture: is anything possible in computer games now?

The experts on the panel on our conference "More Than Just a Game" discussing the topic “Youth Protection, Censorship & Culture” were Prof Jon Festinger (University of British Columbia), Richard Sheridon (Assistant Manager Europe Age Ratings, Nintendo of Europe GmbH) as well as Dr Andreas Lober (Partner with BEITEN BURKHARDT Frankfurt) and Taras Derkatsch (Associate with BEITEN BURKHARDT Moscow). The panel was chaired and moderated by Petra Fröhlich, Editor in Chief, Gameswirtschaft.

The central topic was the debate on Nazi symbolism in computer games which had undergone a decisive change in direction due to the decision of the German Entertainment Software Self-Regulation body (Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle - USK) in August 2018. For the first time in Germany, swastikas can now, under certain conditions, be permitted in video games, for instance, if the use serves “art or science, research or education”. The experts of the panel found the decision to be contemporary and a step in the right direction. The strict ban has been counterproductive in individual cases because it only drew attention to this issue and the symbols in the first place.

The experts warned, however, against the misconception that any computer game involving Nazi symbolism could now be published in Germany. It strongly depends on the individual case. The experts agreed that computer games in which players could play the role of a Nazi, for instance, would in the future still not be available in Germany.

According to the panel of experts, more liberal social and thus legal standards had evolved throughout the years also with respect to other content in video games, e.g. violence. But also in this context many cultures and jurisdictions have their red lines, for instance when it comes to pornographic content. Other discussion points were loot boxes and computer game addiction.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact Timo Conraths.

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