Germany Moves To Ban Violent Videogames

By Jim Rossignol on June 7th, 2009 at 3:23 pm.


Game Politics reports that Germany’s sixteen Interior Ministers have asked the Bundestag to ban the production and distribution of violent video games. This would mean violent videogames could not be purchased at retail or online in Germany, and that companies like CryTek would have to leave the country to continue production of their games. (That, or come up with creative solutions. Perhaps replace all the guns with vomiting cats? Would flicked elastic bands work, or do they come under violence?) Some more thoughts on this beyond the jump.


The move by Germany’s central government seems to have been inspired by the media reaction to recent school shooting in Winnenden, Germany, in which a seventeen year old killed sixteen people. It emerged that the perpetrator played Far Cry 2 and CounterStrike, as well as table tennis. He was also an unhappy teenage boy. Needless to say, fatuous conclusions were drawn.

It’s perhaps worth noting there has never actually been any evidence to show that violence in videogames increases the likelihood for gamers to go on a rampage with deadly firearms.

Nightmarish censorship implications aside, the potential outright banning of violent games certainly suggests that this could be a fascinating social experiment: will there be any less violence in Germany as a result of violent videogames being banned? Will peace and love break out among alienated teenagers who are denied gory entertainments? Or will creating yet another taboo simply make the experience of playing violent videogames even more transgressive, and therefore even more exciting? Hard to know, eh? Yeah, it really is.

Then again, perhaps there won’t be any correlation at all, and Germany will be left looking for something else to blame when another bunch of people get their lives taken away. And, you know, MAYBE THERE’S ANOTHER FACTOR INFLUENCING THESE SHOOTINGS.

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186 Comments »

  1. Black Mamba says:

    At least someone else saw the Charle Brooker piece and real reason these nutters go on rampages unfortunately the media will never ever own up to its part to sensationalizing their rampages.

    The only thing which may stop this bill going through is the public face of job losses as it will decimate the German developer market so other parts of the government may see what a huge mistake it is and try to block it hopefully.

  2. Archonsod says:

    Whatever happened to the days when politicians understood the law was there for punishment and rehabilitation rather than getting foolish notions about prevention?

  3. Risingson says:

    I can’t believe it. Are you people really judging a WHOLE country by this decision? Are you really making inapropiate jokes about WW2 to feel superior to german people?

    This is a bad decision, censorship is troublesome and uses to achieve exactly the opposite. HOWEVER. I agree that reckless violence, like the one hosted in Manhunt 2, is simply something that cannot be sold as entertaiment. And comparing this to real life images in news is an hypocritical argument which destroys itself just after saying it, for being biased, because it ignores the moral that is always carried in those kind of news (which kind, btw? wars?), and because it implies something I never liked: if they do that, why can’t we. I always take an example of a spanish song with those kind of arguments: don’t say that anything is sad, because even sadder is life of ponys in the circus.

  4. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    Eesh, re-reading much of this thread has revealed what a trollercoaster it really is.

    Nuke it from orbit, I say(the thread that is).

  5. Jayteh says:

    @zombiehunter

    why do you assume everyone is American on the internet if they don’t agree with your views?

  6. mihor_fego says:

    @ zombiehunter
    By any means, I did not use the word “fascist” in context with this being a reference to Germany. The movement after all was an Italian one and later became a universal term to describe authoritarian governments or politics.

    I have friends that grew in Germany as immigrant’s children and from their accounts legislature concerning human rights was a lot better there compared to here, as was less racism. In no way does any past define what a nation is today.

    Actually, all European nations have a long history to not be proud of. European imperialism and domestic or colonial oppression go a long way back. Even us Europeans that are easily judgmental of the US foreign politics should not forget this past of ours.

    No individual today could be accountable or should feel uncomfortable of such mentions. I strongly oppose the concept that these political references should be a taboo though.

    Especially for Germany, being one of the leading nations guiding the EU towards more unison, I think no one could hold such misconceptions true. I agree with one thing though: it’s true that the whole world easily makes of past Germany a “villain” in games and movies, while other European empires of the past had a similar record of atrocities towards their colonies. It’s just that Germany had the maturity as a nation to criticize the Nazi regime while other nations never openly admitted their past deeds. So, making a game of the Hindu fighting off the British, Algerians fighting against French or Simon Bolivar against the Spanish is unheard of…

  7. zombiehunter says:

    @Jayteh
    i didn’t state in any way that the lot of you is american did i? Neither did i imply that those opposing my views are.
    actually i tried to give my point of view from the country that is issued in this thread and gave a refference to the country with the most weapon related violence not in war state.
    Yes, those screaming nazi nazi whenever they hear that i’m german are in 85% of the cases americans, thats just a fact i came across in my life. and the funny thing is, wich i tried to point out, that they are at least as narrow minded as those they accuse of beeing whatever.

    But maybe i’m just a racist german that thinks every english speking and reading person must be a stupid american fool. wanted to hear that? good, now have fun with that statement and back to topic. ;)

    kind regards

  8. Spliter says:

    I do believe that games might make one more violent however they’re never the trigger and they make more violent only under certain conditions. I would like to know more about the people that start shooting like how many friends they’ve got, if he’s got a father and mother, if so how is are his parents treating him? Why was he playing games at age 17 which received a rating of 18+??

    The problem is not with people playing games, the problem is with parents not paying attention to what their children do. We don’t need banning games, we need to inform people what they are buying. 90% of our personality comes from our parents, our schools and friends.

    Most people lead a satisfying life, where their parents neither spoil them too much nor treat them like garbage. And those people are barely affected by violence in games.

    I hope the politicians realize that they must focus on the family values and not reacting when it’s already too late.

  9. dmitry says:

    Love the photo accompanying the article.

  10. Jamisia says:

    The wording of the law must be vague. That alone renders the law probably impotent.
    Thanks to downloading & the EU (free traffic etc.) it is ineffective from day one.
    Last but not least: virtual theft has been legally recognized as theft. If you kill someone, player or game monster, in the game, it is killing. If you’ve been killed in PvP, you should be able to file murder in the 1st degree. If you can’t, the normal laws apparently do no apply and any sane person would see that the personality of the gamer determines the murderer (or not) in RL. The violence in the game would then be similar to cartoon violence and that certainly doesn’t t make people violent.

    You can really have fun with the law on this one.

  11. lumpi says:

    Might I also add that there is a huge difference between adults (or teenagers, even) playing violent video games and 8-year olds doing it? This is one of the few cases where extensive ad campaigns (“What does YOUR child play?”) might actually work. I guess many adults are baffled that “children’s toys” are violent… conveniently ignoring the 18+ stickers, no matter how big ( http://www.thq-games.com/resources/packshots/packshotsFront/c70121611859fefd875a36d4d31f7bad.jpg !!! ).

  12. EyeMessiah says:

    @MD: You are of course quite right to point out that there is some evidence that suggests a deterministic causal relationship between consumption of violent media and some sorts of violent behavior.

    Its worth bearing in mind though that even if we put aside the question of the quality of research and the lack of a settled consensus, although the claims made by researchers are typically astoundingly general – what is actually meant is often very nuanced and specific, and often imho not really relevant in terms of relatively crude public policy debate (which is what we are talking about if we are talking about changes to legislation).

    Anyone who is interested should really take a moment to read the experimental setups involved in these kinds of studies.

    The above linked is the abstract for one of the Anderson & Carnegie studies. Its worth reading through the setup for at least Experiment 3 to get a feel for what these sorts of studies define as violent behavior or tenancies. Although its quite a clever experiment I think its clear that when researchers say that there is a sense in which playing violent video games causes violent behavior, they don’t mean that its clear that doing so significantly increases, or indeed causaly determines your chances of shooting up your local school.

  13. eyemessiah says:

    Apologies for the broken link.

    This one works.

    Also I’m not trying to say “all bets are off because social psychology is a crock of shit!” (thats another discussion all together), rather I’m trying to point out that the gulf between what we mean when we are talking about video games causing violent behaivour and what researchers mean when they say they have demonstrated that there is a relationship between video games and violent behaivour is large enough that the two don’t nescessarily marry up in a sensible way.

  14. Bloodrite says:

    now that we’r at it, lets ban tom and jerry too, it’s a violent cartoon! :o

    Ban disney, hanababara and all the others for violence

  15. dhex says:

    “Videogames, as a subject for methodical scientific study, have been sorely neglected.”

    there’s actually been a few neat ones concerning hand/eye coordination in younger surgeons, mostly along the lines of creating more realistic simulators for robotic and microinvasive surgeries, or as a way of preventing skill atrophy in older surgical specialists.

  16. Jim Rossignol says:

    Yeah, there’s been some interesting stuff re visual processing too. But detailed examination of brain physiology, long term exposure, study of aggregate behaviour patterns, it’s all still untouched – not least because there are so many variables.

    I wasn’t joking about the Germany as interesting experiment, by the way, I’d love to see it make a difference. The thing is, I don’t think games have anything to do with these kinds of violent episodes, and censorship is nothing more than empty posturing against a set of problems that are too complex for legislators to take seriously.

  17. Tei says:

    Cinderella is a tale about necrofilia. Little Red Riding Hood is a tale about die eaten by wolfs.

    Infantilization is a cruel thing, Is bad enough wen we do it to childrens. Is worst wen you do it to a whole society.

    The cry of “Think of the childrens” is a crywolf, but it works for politicians that have nothing to do productive, so try calling to guts instead. And since our whole society is infantilized, is a call that always work. Everywhere and everything is asked with “who think of the childrens”. Even some politicians to the others. I think of the childrens, I think the childrens will grown, and these evil politicians are building a bad world for these childrens. I say NO to infantilization, and nanny states. Maybe “Manhunt 2″ is horrible violent, and maybe “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” too, and “The Diamond Age or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer”. If you ban Manhunt 2, you sould ban Texas Chain Massacre and The Diamond Age. I don’t see why we have to ban

  18. zombiehunter says:

    o_O
    necrophilia in cinderella? boy i should read more childrens books it seems… where is that about beein attracted to corpses? must have missed that as a child ^^

  19. Premium User Badge

    Sagan says:

    @MD: That’s actually quite interesting. Somehow you rarely read about actual scientific data about stuff like this on the internet. However this isn’t about the effect on children. There are already laws here in Germany that prevent children from playing violent games. This is about a complete ban.

    @zombiehunter: No, this has been decided. The 16 interior ministers decided, that they are going to tighten the gun laws and that they are going to ban all killergames. And those are the people that are responsible for changes like that.
    Of course what they decided is completely unreasonable. So they will end up not doing anything.

  20. zombiehunter says:

    sorry sagan but:
    It may have been decided by the 16 interior ministers yes, but it still has to pass the bundestag and bundesrat to become a law through that games can be prohibited.
    And i don’t think that’ll happen, especially not before the elections. simple and pure preelection panic

    and still i dunno where in cinderella is necrophilia o_O

  21. Dominic White says:

    Am I the only one who ‘hears’ Tei’s posts in a thick eastern european accent?

    It’s the only way to make “Cinderella is a tale about necrofilia. Little Red Riding Hood is a tale about die eaten by wolfs.” make any sense, really.

  22. dhex says:

    But detailed examination of brain physiology, long term exposure, study of aggregate behaviour patterns, it’s all still untouched – not least because there are so many variables.

    of course. it’s something of a silly proposition, as game playing in the population goes up but rates for violent crime fluctuate and are generally trending downward. many of the “violent images and aggression” studies tend to focus on a short window of time right after seeing, say, tapes of car crashes or what have you.

    the thrust behind this for the population is at least understandable, if not noble, in terms of wanting to prevent decidedly rare but spectacularly violent outbreaks with children and young adults. but as we’ve seen with columbine, most of the conventional wisdom – and the consultants and experts who push it – tends to be wrong.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-04-13-columbine-myths_N.htm

    invariably, like any other crisis, there’s then an opportunity for peddlers of all stripe to line up at the trough of both public attention and potential public funds that generally follows. so we can blame it on doom or gun laws or black trenchcoats (remember the trenchcoat bans that followed? or “she said yes”?) or acne medication or violent music, etc, because the real alternative is to say “sometimes awful shit happens, and all you can do to prevent it is either catch ‘em beforehand or shoot them real soon afterwards.”

    no one is going to get elected on a platform like that, much less get a block grant or a book deal.

  23. Taillefer says:

    (Maybe narcophilia?)

  24. OJ 287 says:

    Those studies into violent games are for children. Who shouldnt be playing them.

    The real issue is allowing kids to play adult only games.

  25. A-Scale says:

    @LactoseTheIntolerant

    However I don’t see how you could argue that making guns much more difficult to acquire wouldn’t reduce the frequency of shootings (and in kind the frequency of murders/violent crime overall overall; someone mentioned earlier the difference between attacking someone with a gun and with, say, a knife).

    Violence is a lot like a sieve. If you plug one hole, more water will come out of the others. Those who wish to commit violence will do so whether it be done with guns, knives, bats, fists, fertilizer bombs, etc. Restricting guns may reduce gun crime (but not much, as most guns used in crimes are gotten illegally anyway), but it will also increase many other types of crime, as the 2.5 million times guns are used defensively per year in the U.S. will result in the innocent being done more harm than if they had a gun in those situations.
    http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcdguse.html

    Further, I’d far prefer to be shot than stabbed. Guns are a far less precise weapon (particularly Saturday night specials in the hands of hoodies) than a knife at close range. Further, a knife slash is probably more likely to hit a vital vein than an errant bullet, which pierces a straight hole through.

    Lastly, a few incidents of morons shooting up schools a year (even if it was hundreds of incidents) would not warrant restricting the basic human right of gun ownership. Guns are the only means by which a populace can still retain true control of the right to rule, as only then are they capable of taking power back from the government. The people of England are subjects, not citizens. I pray that Americans shall always be citizens.

  26. Wisq says:

    Apologies if this has already been pointed out, but …

    Okay, so the main arguments against banning guns outright are one, “we can’t enforce that” (and/or “we already do that”), and two, “people will find other ways to get guns and/or kill each other”.

    Does it not seem a little awkward to claim that you will be more effective at banning a particular type of software? That’s like giving everyone an infinite object duplication machine and then trying to ban a particular physical object.

    And for the second, does it not seem likely that people will find other ways to get these games and/or other forms of entertainment that give them the same sort of satisfaction?

  27. psyk says:

    “Further, I’d far prefer to be shot than stabbed. Guns are a far less precise weapon (particularly Saturday night specials in the hands of hoodies) than a knife at close range. Further, a knife slash is probably more likely to hit a vital vein than an errant bullet, which pierces a straight hole through.”

    Depends on what ammo there using a hollow point is going to cause some serious trauma.

    “as only then are they capable of taking power back from the government.”

    Oh dear, I would love for the citizens of America to try and overthrow the government with the guns they have, unless you guys get the army and airforce on your side before hand you will get destroyed.

  28. britain says:

    that is so stupid banning games will just make more rampages i no that if the government banned my gaylo 3 i would murder every one of those sons of bitches in that crazy house. if that bitch ass mother fucking government took away my fucking games i would march up there and break all of there necks with my bare nerdy hands and yell which one of you bitch ass mother fucking cock faces wants some of this and i would push up my glasses and laugh as i watched those fat ass pussies hide behind their chairs. excuse my french

  29. A-Scale says:

    Oh dear, I would love for the citizens of America to try and overthrow the government with the guns they have, unless you guys get the army and airforce on your side before hand you will get destroyed.

    A band of redneck bible bashing militiamen were able to defeat the best army/navy in the world once before (Revolutionary War), I don’t see why we couldn’t do it again.

  30. Kong says:

    That would be too good news to be true.
    No more crappy German translated games in our Austrian stores. Just like in the good old days, when all computer games were in English language.
    But no – it will not happen. We will not be so lucky.

  31. Down Rodeo says:

    “the basic human right of gun ownership”

    A-scale, I’ve seen your comments here before, and seriously, this is the one that scares me the most. Are you so paranoid or worried that you’re going to be attacked that you need a gun? Or that governments are automatically bad? Either way it does not suggest you have a great trust of other people. And your suggestion that violence is like a sieve: I really don’t think so. This also suggests that you have a very dim view of the decency of other human beings. I’d count myself as being fairly cynical most days but I don’t think I have quite descended to your level.

    As far as personal protection is concerned I read a statistic in either a Michael Moore book or an Al Franken book that said a large proportion of privately-owned guns in America were used against their owners by an intruder. I’m sorry I cannot be more accurate but it was rather a while ago that I read the statistic in question and the two authors named cover the same territory, even if Mr Moore does annoy me considerably. I also have no time to look it up.

    At least banning guns would seriously cut down on the number of accidental deaths. But that’s not what this thread’s about; I just felt that I couldn’t let that statement go by without some kind of notice. Seriously, you and people like you scare me.

  32. flo says:

    well. I’ll always remember this year as the year I finally lost all faith in my country’s politicians. The amount of misinformation and propaganda they’ve been spewing makes me want to break something (virtually) every time I read some more or think of it.
    Just to make some points clear for some commenters:
    - Germany has already one of the toughest gun laws in the world, as far as I know.
    - iirc, there has not been “one amok run per year”. yes there has been more than one in germany in recent history, but not one per year. if britain had less than that, as far as I know, it’s certainly not because of tighter gun controls, inherently less violent people, or people playing less video games.

  33. Andrew Dunn says:

    A band of redneck bible bashing militiamen were able to defeat the best army/navy in the world once before (Revolutionary War), I don’t see why we couldn’t do it again.

    Because you’d be on the home turf of the enemy and they have the material advantage (hugely) and can bring it to bear very easily and supply is much easier and communication is instant.

    But good luck.

  34. adam says:

    I lived in Germany for 3 years. This is old news that was in the papers awhile back.
    It’ll never happen. We’re talking about a country where cities pass anti-smoking laws and then protestors say it’s their right to smoke and get it repealed.

  35. varun says:

    noooooooooooooooooooooooooo…does this mean no COD,GTA,HALO ETC ETC(for germany)

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