The next Wolfenstein game might not even need to remove Adolf Hitler's moustache. Germany's Entertainment
Software Self-Regulation Body (or USK), an independent, industry-funded board that oversees age and content ratings for videos games available in the country, announced on Thursday that it will now permit the sale of games featuring Nazi imagery
within the country, something that had previously been banned. The USK's decision reportedly came after a heated debate involving the Nazi-killing Wolfenstein series , particularly a pair of anti--Third Reich games in 2014 and 2017 that were
visibly, and somewhat humorously , self-censored in Germany in order to avoid violating a provision of the country's constitution.
Previously, video games with Nazi symbolism were heavily censored or outright banned based on the German criminal code's Section 86a , which forbids the use of symbols, flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans, propaganda, and greetings relating to
unconstitutional organizations in German products. Section 86a violations could be met with up to three years of imprisonment or a hefty fine.
USK will now assess games on a case-by-case basis to determine if they meet a reinterpreted standard of the country's social adequacy clause that allows for Nazi imagery if it serves one of the following purposes: artistic, scientific, or if it
depicts current or historical events. This metric is currently used for films screened in Germany because they are considered works of art.
We recently surveyed more than 2,000 parents on our platform and found that more than half of parents allow their children to play video games for over 18s, without supervision or knowledge of the game beforehand. In contrast, just 18% said they
would let 10-14-year-olds watch an 18+ movie.
We also discovered that 86% of parents admitted that they don't follow age restrictions on video games, compared to 23% who said they didn't follow age restrictions on films.
43% of parents say they have seen a negative change in their child's behaviour since playing games aimed at adults, and 22% of the 2,171 respondents said their kids now understand and use negative or offensive language since playing these games.
86% of parents don't believe that games will impact their child's behaviour or outlook on life. However 62% admit they have tried to take the games away from their kids but gave them back soon after because of tantrums and 48% fear that their
child is addicted to video games.
Richard Conway, founder of Childcare.co.uk said:
It's difficult in this day and age to govern what your child is exposed to, because if your 10-year-old has friends who are playing Fortnite, which is rated 12, you want them to be included in the fun. However, it's always worth looking into the
game to see if it's suitable rather than leaving them to their own devices.
What's interesting is that the majority of parents follow film age ratings, but when it comes to video games they maybe aren't as strict. It's important to remember how impressionable children are; if they see behaviour or language in a video
game or movie, they may mimic it.
Australia's Classification Review Board has unanimously overturned the ban on the video game, We Happy Few by the main Classification Board. The appeals boards has now passed the game with the adults-only R18+ for Fantasy
violence and interactive drug use.
The game's developer, Compulsion Games, has expressed sympathy for the censor board saying it wasn't sure the Board could have ruled any other way.
In an email with Kotaku Australia, Compulsion Games chief operating officer and producer Sam Abbott said he wasn't sure that the Classification Board had any room to move, given the constraints of the rating guidelines:
I think originally the board made the best decision they could given (a) the guidelines they work within, and (b) the information we provided them, Abbott said. I'm not sure I'd make a different original decision given those constraints.
Abbott went on to explain that Compulsion Games could have outlined more information about Joy -- the drug that is a centrepiece of the dystopian society in which We Happy Few is set -- including the positive and negative aspects of its
The censor board banned the game for its use of drugs in-game, under the clause about incentivised drug use including:
New skills or attribute increases, extra points, unlocking achievements, plot animations, scenes and rewards, rare or exclusive loot, or making tasks easier to accomplish,
The latter of which was the reason We Happy Few originally fell foul of in the rule. In the Board's opinion:
The game's drug-use mechanic making game progression less difficult constitutes an incentive or reward for drug-use and therefore, the game exceeds the R 18+ classification that states, drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted.
Therefore, the game warrants being Refused Classification.
The Classification Review Board will issue details reasons for its decision in due course.
The Classification Review Board has now published its reasons for
overruling the censorship board's ban of We Happy Few and awarding an uncut R18+ rating instead:
Reasons for the decision
The premise of this computer game is for the playing characters to escape a fictional town where the inhabitants are in a state of Government mandated euphoria and memory loss. Although the non -playing characters appear to be happy due to their
continual use of the Joy drug, the computer game quickly establishes that this state is undesirable and the playing characters are on a quest to avoid the use of the Joy drug. The actual use of the fictitious drug as a game progression mechanic,
questions the viability of such a gameplay decision at each stage/level. The character's action in taking the drug is usually the only viable option given and while it may enable the character to pass a stage/level of the game, the benefit is
short term and is followed by a loss of memory and a reduction in health points, the depletion of the body and/or withdrawal symptoms. In the Review Board's opinion, the use of the drug is not presented as an incentive nor does it constitute a
reward for the player in achieving the aim of the computer game. In the Review Board's opinion, the interactive drug use does not exceed high, therefore the computer game can be accommodated at R 18+.