Salida dear readers,
my name is Jim aka "OpiumHerz" and as some of you may already guess by that nickname: I am german. With the blog series "The worst thing about censorship is ███████ " I want to simply give you a little insight in videogame censorhsip, which is still pretty much alive and kicking here in Germany (but I won't restrict myself to Germany exklusively). I'll try to post entries at least all two weeks or so. Feel free to comment for suggestions, corrections or critique.
This episode was to be about Manhunt, but then this disaster
happens and BAM: Call of Duty time!
"Call of Duty" always had a tough standing here, which is because of it's main theme: war. Especially the older games which tackled World War II. I don't want this to become a socialpsychology rant, but most of us germans start to feel pretty itchy when it's come to this topic. After two generations who had nothing to do with this tragedy it is still rubbed in our faces and we are still bleeding for it some way or another. The generation before me was still almost indoctrinated to don't feel proud for their nation, because it could be taken the wrong way. With the younger generations, this is more and more diminished, but I remember my parents disliking games about war or conflicts per se. At least the action oriented and more realistic titles, stuff like Warcraft was okay.
So when you make ego shooters in World War II, something's got to happen. First of all, all of the CoDs were rated 18+. This came as no surprise. The earlier titles weren't even censored - at least when it came to violence. I think up until "Modern Warfare 3" there was no big "Call of Duty" entry that was completly uncensored. But in the earlier games it was just a bit of Nazi symbols and phrases that were changed. Sometimes the documentary-like parts changed small pieces of text.
Example: in one game the english version tells about the "Nazi leadership", while the german version translated this to "german leadership".
Stuff like this tends to happen with this topic here. I mentioned before how in "Return to Castle Wolfenstein" you don't fight Nazis. No, you fight an organisation called "The Wolfs".
Nazi symbols also have to be censored, because there are few contexts it is okay to show them in Germany. Essentially: if you do it for documentary purposes (museums, documentary movies, history books etc.) or in art form it's okay. The problem is: video games are not considered art by the german law. So it's not allowed to show the Hakenkreuz or the SS-Symbol in games, the game would get confiscated (happened for example to "Commandos" and the collector's edition of "Silent Hunter 5" was pulled from shelves, after someone noticed that there was a little Reichsadler in the manual, that was apparently overlooked). So yeah, it's okay in Germany for a 12 year old to watch Indiana Jones fight the Nazis, but a grown adult can't fight them in a 18+ rated videogame. Go figure.
However, "Call of Duty" evolved and with "Modern Warfare", the violence censorship started - although quite mildly. MW 1 had only two censored parts: when you shoot some bad guy's arm off in a scripted sequence it doesn't leave a blood stain behind. And the so called "Arcade Mode" was removed. While the removal of the "Arcade Mode" made sense (like mentioned before, the USK doesn't like the whole "Killing for points" thing), the violence censorship made people scratch their heads. The game was rated 18+ anyways and it can be assumed that this was done preemptively.
"Modern Warfare 2", again, was just a little bit censored. The infamous "No Russian" mission was censored in a simple way: you were not allowed to shoot civilians. Shoot one civilian and you had to start over. That was all. Again, this game was rated 18+ in Germany and it can be assumed this censoring was done preemptively.
And finally "Modern Warfare 3" came through without any cenoring at all. Rated 18+ again everything was there. But then again, there wasn't really much to remove.
Unlike in the games Treyarch contributed to the series between the "Modern Warfare" games. Because those games don't only contain some blood and corpses, but actual gore.
Startig with "World at War", for once the Nazi symbols were back. But we covered that already. The documentary style videos were censored in some parts and it didn't only hit things like change some wording, but actual scene removal. Even the gameplay demo that runs when you leave the main menu open was changed. The blood was fewer or removed at all, blood didn't splatter on walls or floors and of course all the splatter effects like shooting of limbs were gone too. You could say that essentially: almost all of the violence was gone, be it enemies suffering from a hit with the flamethrower or scripted sequences. And, what made gamers most furious, "Nacht der Untoten" aka Nazi Zombies was completly removed. The games was indexed in it's uncensored version on list B.
It went on with "Black Ops" like this. Some scripted scenes were changed because feeding a prisoner shards of glass and them punching him isn't something that will go well with the USK. Blood and splatter was removed again pretty much completly, and scripted sequence like when you put a grenade in an enemies pocket and push him away were censored too. And again: Nazi symbols are not welcome here. Even the multiplayer statistics were censored. The count for "Headshots" was named "Volltreffer", which roughly translates to "Bull's eye hits" (you can't really translate it, but "Volltreffer" is an expression for a good hit in general). "Black Ops" however is a rare case, because the german PEGI (=european) version was censored too. All the violence was intact, but the Nazi symbols and translations were still censored. Only the european version WITHOUT the german language was uncensored. "Black Ops" was "blitzindiziert" (sudden indexed, meaning it didn't run through the process first and then got indexed, but the other way around). The game was alter indexed on list A. The game was rated 18+ again, even in it's censored version.
"Black Ops II" was another curious case. The publisher announced an uncut version, but players found their games censored. Shooting of limbs in the Zombie mode was not possible anymore and the legless Zombies were removed completly. The publisher explained this was just a technical issue and a Day 1 Patch uncensored the game again, but the sheer existence of this version proves: it was meant to be sold this way in Germany. Apparently the publisher was surprised to see it come through without the need to censor it. So if you stayed offline with your gaming system and played "Black Ops II" in the german version, you got a censored one. Again: the title was rated 18+. Big surprise.
Like I said before: "Call of Duty" never had it really easy in Germany. Be it due to the topic of World War II or the violence - or both. Especially when it comes to Nazi symbols and stuff like that, most germans can't take a joke (it's very clear that the Nazi Zombies mode is just poking fun at the topic and not meant serious at all, but it doesn't matter). I always find it sad when games have to be censored like this. First of all: you can call them "The Wolfs" or "The Happy Gas Chamber Salesmen" or whatever, everyone KNOWS it's the Nazis you are fighting. We get this topic shoved down our throats in school for so long, when you make your university-entrance diploma you do essentially nothing else for three years in History. But besides that it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, because, to me, it reeks of denial. "No, don't talk about it, there were no Nazis, nonono, there were no symbols they used." It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth and that is one of the many reasons, why games need to be accepted as an art form and receive the same protection by german law as soon as possible. It's been enough, really. We all know who the Nazis were, we all know that they did bad things, and there are enough measures that this will never happen again. Now, can we, as a society, please move on? Thanks.