What is missing in video games today

Report: Censorship in Video Games

Classic censorship: get rid of anti-constitutional symbols! Like in "Zombie Army Trilogy".

Also well known to gamblers: Germany has by far the strictest youth protection law in Europe. Two authorities rate and evaluate games: The USK (entertainment software self-regulation) takes care of the age rating. It divides games into five age groups: Sale without restriction, from 6, 12, 16, 18 years. If a game does not receive such a label from the authority, the Federal Testing Office for Media Harmful to Young People (BPjM) usually indexes the title in the second step.

What does indexing mean?

Indexed media (such as films, games, books or CDs) may not be sold, given or otherwise made accessible to children and young people. Particularly annoying for manufacturers: Advertising is also taboo. However, adults purchase an indexed title in stores on request. When buying online, the sale is only allowed if the buyer clearly proves that he is of legal age. By the way, an indexing is valid for 25 years. The title then falls off the list or is re-examined. Indexing is rather unpleasant for game manufacturers, since titles naturally sell poorly without advertising and without being present on the shelves. In order to avoid indexing, many manufacturers therefore offer special versions of their games in Germany.

Censorship in Games: The Most Exciting Examples

What is being cut?

The type, number and depth of the interventions depend on the game in question. As a rule, however, the manufacturers defuse or remove the following content:
  • Anti-constitutional symbols: In “Wolfenstein - The New Order”, for example, Bethesda replaced swastikas with the new Wolfenstein logo. Manufacturers even modify actually harmless games. Example: The skateboard game "Skate 2". The logo of a US skateboard manufacturer contains hidden SS runes - the symbols do not exist in the German version.
  • Blood spurting excessively in battles: The action cracker "Bioshock", in the original a very bloody affair, in the German version only distributes a little vitality in the scenery.
  • Severed limbs: In many action games, victims lose arms and legs if they come into contact with guns or cut weapons. In the USK versions, the bodies remain whole. A prominent example: "Medal of Honor".
  • Splatter effects: After explosions or heavy hits, the bodies of enemies tear apart. You won't find such blood orgies in games for the German market. For example, Warner Interactive cut out a number of scenes of this kind from “Fear 2 - Project Origin”.
  • Ragdoll effect: This realistic twitching of lifeless bodies after being shot, kicked or punched is the order of the day in “Bulletstorm” - but not in the German version. In the western epic “Red Dead Redemption”, Rockstar Games only weakened the effect.
  • Sex or nude scenes: In “The Godfather 2” there are no bare breasts to be seen in the night clubs. In general, the German control authority is not particularly tight-lipped in this regard. In the USA, for example, bare skin is treated much more critically.
  • Music and lyrics: The background music is also not safe from the critical ears of the youth activists: The makers deleted the global hit “Sympathy for the Devil” from the Rolling Stones from “Call of Duty - Black Ops”. The USK said that this title was not the right background for an attack on Viet Cong fighters.

    Spoken or written texts also fall victim to the scissors. For example, entire audio and subtitle passages are missing in the action game "Wet" by Bethesda. Or you can freely translate text passages: In “Timeshift” the battle cry “Kill them all” becomes the more harmless variant “Get them done”. And “Kill the Nazis” mutates in “Call of Duty - Black Ops” to “Kill the Germans” - a bad improvement.

Hard to believe: Capcom censored “DmC - Devil May Cry” for the “Definitive Edition”.

These changes can cost a lot, but do not have to be. While according to Electronic Arts additional costs in the amount of a six-digit euro amount can arise, Ubisoft apparently comes through the classification process for free. Even during game development, the company pays attention to content that could fail due to the Youth Protection Act. The defused German version is then created parallel to the original. Still other providers do not want to change their games and therefore refrain from selling them in Germany.

The different game versions

Compliance with the German Youth Protection Act means that there are different versions of the same game. For example, there are three versions of "Call of Duty - Black Ops":
  • The uncut, European Pegi version: The content is identical to the original American version and contains all the game elements. It is not available in German shops, but it is available from mail order companies on the Internet (such as Amazon.de). The retailer requires proof of age and / or a credit card for the purchase.
  • The German Pegi 18 version: The manufacturer Activision removed all Nazi symbols from this German “Black Ops” version. The representation of violence remained unchanged. German Pegi-18 versions are also available from online mail order companies or from game dealers in Austria and Switzerland.
  • The German USK-18 version: The manufacturer strongly defuses the variant cut according to the specifications of the German Youth Protection Act. You can obtain this version from German dealers. Apart from National Socialist symbols, there are no hard scenes of violence.

Also in the “Remastered” version of “The Last of Us” a lot of blood is missing in the multiplayer mode.

In addition, the USK founded the “International Age Rating Coalition”, or “IARC” for short, primarily for digital download games. IARC enables the individual products to be quickly classified using an online questionnaire that the manufacturers fill out themselves. Once filled in, IARC spits out the appropriate seals of the respective countries - which are then used in the digital stores. The future will show whether IARC will abolish the other seals. You can find detailed information about IARC here. Many more examples of censorship in video games can be found in the picture gallery at the beginning of the article.

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