View Full Version : [PGD Competition 2007] German Law - Forbidden Symbols

Sascha Willems
31-01-2007, 06:51 PM
I will be one of the judges for the upcoming PGD2007-competition, and since german (yeah, that's actually were I'm living) law is very strict on national socialistic insigina I open up this thread that every participiant should carefully read through!

As most of you know World War 2 games are very famous these days (Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Panzers, Wolfenstein, etc.) some of you may want to make a game for the competition that also play in that World War or maybe even has a mad futuristic vision in which the nazis took over the world (or the whole universe) and therefore I want you to inform what symbols you are not allowed to use.

If you use such symbols, I won't download your entry and you won't get any points for it from my side. The reason is simple : Those symbols are illegal by german law (86a) and downloading an entry that contains one or more of those symbols will make myself offend this law and in the worst case could me, or any other interested in your game german person, get into jail.

So now you may ask why we have movies over here that contain those symbols? Easy : Movies count as art here in germany and as long as those movies don't promote national socialism they can use those symbols. Games on the other side are treated very badly over here in germany (especially since "killer-games" on some amok-running youths PCs were found) and are under no circumstances allowed to use those symbols and games such as Wolfenstein or Call of Duty have special german versions with those symbols changed (and often even names changed, so no Heinrich Himmler in the german Wolfenstein).

What symbols are forbidden in germany :
The german police has a list of the symbols that are forbidden, so please take a look at it here (http://www.polizei-beratung.de/aktionen/rechtsextremismus/erkennungszeichen/_86a_zeichen/). The german law also forbids using symbols that resemble those ones, so something that actually is no nazi swastika but resembles it is mostly also forbidden unless the context clearly shows that it is assigned to something different. Same goes fro some ancient nordic runes like the odal rune (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odal_rune).

But I want to make a game including national socialistic settings, what to do?
Best way would be to do it like the german version of Call of Duty. They don't totally ruin the setting like Wolfenstein did and replaced the nazi flag with a flag with the same color but using a stylized iron cross (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Czarny_krzyz_balkanski_Luftwaffe_1939-45.png) instead of the swastika. This way players still know what the flags refer to but without troubles for german players. And as for names : You don't need to exchange them with fantasy names. There are games (like Wolfenstein) that do this, but this is not something you must do.

Thanks for reading this, and if the you decide to enter the contest please take care of the above matters. I opened this as a separate thread instead of having Dom put it into the rules so you can discuss this and if you have direct questions or if you're unsure wether the things you do are against german laws just put them here, I'll try to respond as fast as I can.

31-01-2007, 07:12 PM
Has the competition been announced? I cannot find any details. Or are you jumping the gun?

Sascha Willems
31-01-2007, 07:20 PM
No, nothing announced. I posted this in advance so this thread can later be linked to within the official rules.

31-01-2007, 07:34 PM
I asked Sascha to post this as a discussion point as it will be a major factor in the competition and worthy of questions for those that are unaware of it.

31-01-2007, 09:47 PM
I was aware games where modified slightly to avoid problems in germany. I did not know about the symbols though.

Something I do know about is the green blood. Im not sure if that is still done these days, but what are your thoughts about that?

Sascha Willems
31-01-2007, 09:57 PM
The stuff with the blood is still done, but it has nothing to do with the above one. Nazi symbols are illegal, shooting at humans with real gore and blood "just" makes a game getting rated so that only mature people (18 and above) can buy those. But that only matters for games you want to sell in germany, not for games you release to the net.
So e.g. Doom 3 can only be bought by showing your passport and verifiying that you're old enough and the distributor is also not allowed to advertise for it. And there is also e.g. a german version of Quake 4 which is heavily cut, and which you can't use to play online with players from different countries.
But that's actually not different from movies here in germany, where you can get the bloody uncut ones (like Braindead and stuff) only if you're old enough.

31-01-2007, 10:09 PM
Silly Germans :roll:

Back on topic: How about extreme violence involving human-like characters? I've heard people discussing over at GDNet that games containing that were outlawed either in Germany or Italy. Is there any truth in that?

Not that I plan to make any violent game yet...

Sascha Willems
31-01-2007, 10:16 PM
No, for games that are freely distributed over the internet that law does not count since one cannot restrict the internet.
It's only when you sell your games here in germany you need to submit it to the USK (which is control unit of the government that puts different medias into the different age categories or bans them if appropriate) and the USK then gives it a certain age restriction (free for all ages, 6 yeas and plus, 12 years and plus, 16 years and plus and finally 18 and plus). Selling a game that has not been rated within germany is then also forbidden.

31-01-2007, 10:50 PM
Thanks for letting us know.

31-01-2007, 11:34 PM
I believe the whole green blood and mass modification of games to sell in Germany started with the late NES and early SNES area of games where Nintendo couldn't advertise any of the more popular games for it's console because of the very strict bi-laws in Germany.

One such game was the German localized, Genesis version of Contra originally called Contra Hard Corps., but renamed to Probotector instead.

Read the wikipedia article on it here! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contra_%28series%29#Probotector_and_censoring)

01-02-2007, 03:08 AM
Best way would be to do it like the german version of Call of Duty. They don't totally ruin the setting like Wolfenstein did and replaced the nazi flag with a flag with the same color but using a stylized iron cross (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Czarny_krzyz_balkanski_Luftwaffe_1939-45.png) instead of the swastika.

The stylised iron cross has been used in wargaming for decades, before personal computers, on board games. It's the simplest solution to the problem.