Everyone knows that it was Nazi German agression that led to world war two. Everyone knows that Nazi Germany was responsible for the holocaust in which millions of Jews and Gypsies were killed. So what, you might say, this was 60 years ago, it is no longer relevant. But you would be wrong, it has left a deep and permanent scar in the German psyche. It is something for which they can never atone. And it informs many aspects of German life today. Even video games.
In Britain and America we are used to the authorities having double standards. To the repression of freedom of expression in video games when (say) books have effectively zero censorship and no age rating system. In Germany it is a thousand times worse. To their authorities even Tetris is a bit too much for adult consumption.
This has existed since the beginning of the video gaming industry. Every German parent wants their child to be a double doctor and to study 25 hours a day to get there. So to them a video game is a silly and expensive distraction that might pollute their child’s mind. Obviously we know that the facts prove them to be wrong. Game playing children have better problem solving skills, better hand eye coordination, better social skills etc etc. For children, game playing is conclusively proven to be a very good thing.
So things were bad but then something very terrible happened. A deranged schoolkid went to school with a gun and shot his schoolmates. A sort of Columbine lite. Which was a tragedy for all involved. Then they found out that he played computer games. So they knew exactly where to place the blame. I bet he watched television, went to the cinema and read books as well. But they couldn’t be blamed because they are media that those in power understand.
The German political reaction to the tragedy was a mindless, ill informed, knee jerk. They brought in the most repressive legislation against video games in the world. They have so limited what a German adult is allowed to play that it is nothing short of an infringement on their citizen’s human rights.
Just now there is a trial in Russia of a killer who was inspired by the squares on a chess board to go and kill over 60 people. But you don’t see the Russian government rushing to ban board games do you? It is exactly the same. If someone is deranged and acts in a sociopathic way then you cannot put the blame on a common everyday phenomenon.
Video games are played by hundreds of millions of people. If they caused violent outrages we would know about it by now. They don’t. The German authorities are stupid and wrong. Just as David Cameron and Gordon Brown were stupid and wrong to demonise video games in recent weeks. These misinformed politicians are the thin edge of an ignorance that seeks to take away our fundemental human rights.
And in Germany they are still banning video games that cause no harm in the rest of the world. Clive Barker’s Jericho is just the latest to suffer this fate. This is exactly the same as burning books, which the Nazis did. Of course the German public have their ways and means to get round the silly law. And when distribution by download takes off the stupid German authorities will be powerless. Which will be truly excellent.
So are you German and feel you would like to comment? Please do. Even if you are not German this is an immensely important topic for our industry so please have your say.