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Published on July 29th, 2009 | by The Editor
Image © This week has brought the news that German Ministers of the Interior from all 16 states are attempting to push legislation through the German parliament, The Bundestag, to have the production and distribution of “violent” video games banned. This is a response to several shootings in German schools, in particular the killings on March 11th by a 17 year old who supposedly learnt the skills he used from the computer game CounterStrike. xbox controllerIn my opinion this is a form of scapegoating, blaming the growing video game industry in Germany for the issues of a tiny minority of deeply troubled individuals. There must have been underlying issues in these people which made them commit these terrible crimes, and banning video games because of it, aside from punishing everyone for the crimes of a few, just doesn't make sense to me. If someone really wanted to do what these people did, they would find out how to regardless of whether they could play games or not. Couple this with the fact that the Ministers want this bill passed before the next election on September 27th and you start to see this for what it really is, a shameless popularity play, attempting to gain favour with the public before voting day by appearing to make radical changes when realistically they are avoiding the real problem, the issues that push people to these acts, and no doubt costing the German taxpayer a pretty penny in doing so. With a ban like this it will cost millions of euros to enforce, enforcement which will be ineffective at best. You should never underestimate the enterprising talent of a teenager who wants the new Call Of Duty game. If they can't get it legitimately, they'll find another way of getting their hands on it. This raises another issue, the consequences of such a ban. I don't know whether the German government expects German teenagers to take this ban in their stride, but somehow that seems extremely unlikely. People will still get their hands on these games and because of this ban an entire generation will be criminalised for doing what teenagers all across the world take for granted. Another issue is how this ban is to be enforced. Stopping shops from selling these games, and studios from producing them, is one thing but what about all the international websites which allow you to order games to your door, all the services which allow you to download games to your computer not mention online games which would be classified as violent? Are the German people looking at censorship on the level of the Chinese Internet filter, Green Dam, that limits their every move online for fear of exposing them to violent content? What about if this ban doesn't have the effect they want it to, will they ban violent TV shows, Movies and Books? What about violence in the news? This new development is internationally important as it could very well set a precedent for other countries, such as the UK and USA where video games have previously received part of the blame for increased violence, to create this level of censorship. How do you feel about video game censorship? Comment and let us know. photo courtesy of A Hermida @ flickr

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German Ministers call to ban “violent” video games

This week has brought the news that German Ministers of the Interior from all 16 states are attempting to push legislation through the German parliament, The Bundestag, to have the production and distribution of “violent” video games banned. This is a response to several shootings in German schools, in particular the killings on March 11th by a 17 year old who supposedly learnt the skills he used from the computer game CounterStrike.

xbox controllerIn my opinion this is a form of scapegoating, blaming the growing video game industry in Germany for the issues of a tiny minority of deeply troubled individuals. There must have been underlying issues in these people which made them commit these terrible crimes, and banning video games because of it, aside from punishing everyone for the crimes of a few, just doesn’t make sense to me. If someone really wanted to do what these people did, they would find out how to regardless of whether they could play games or not.

Couple this with the fact that the Ministers want this bill passed before the next election on September 27th and you start to see this for what it really is, a shameless popularity play, attempting to gain favour with the public before voting day by appearing to make radical changes when realistically they are avoiding the real problem, the issues that push people to these acts, and no doubt costing the German taxpayer a pretty penny in doing so. With a ban like this it will cost millions of euros to enforce, enforcement which will be ineffective at best. You should never underestimate the enterprising talent of a teenager who wants the new Call Of Duty game. If they can’t get it legitimately, they’ll find another way of getting their hands on it.

This raises another issue, the consequences of such a ban. I don’t know whether the German government expects German teenagers to take this ban in their stride, but somehow that seems extremely unlikely. People will still get their hands on these games and because of this ban an entire generation will be criminalised for doing what teenagers all across the world take for granted. Another issue is how this ban is to be enforced. Stopping shops from selling these games, and studios from producing them, is one thing but what about all the international websites which allow you to order games to your door, all the services which allow you to download games to your computer not mention online games which would be classified as violent?

Are the German people looking at censorship on the level of the Chinese Internet filter, Green Dam, that limits their every move online for fear of exposing them to violent content? What about if this ban doesn’t have the effect they want it to, will they ban violent TV shows, Movies and Books? What about violence in the news?

This new development is internationally important as it could very well set a precedent for other countries, such as the UK and USA where video games have previously received part of the blame for increased violence, to create this level of censorship.

How do you feel about video game censorship? Comment and let us know.

photo courtesy of A Hermida @ flickr

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