Here is something you might not know; a lot of video-games depict violence. Violence is for better or for worse the most common form of interaction in gaming.
Don't think I am writing this as some form of deep and intellectual criticism because, quite frankly, I like video-games just the way they are, blood and guts included.
Now here is something else you might not know; the country I currently live and was born in doesn't.
As a matter of fact it despises it, vilifying not only any form of violence in video games, regardless of the game's quality or intellectual worth, but also the gamers that play them.
They are displayed as socially incompetent losers who only find solace in that terrible drug gaming.
And what happens when a student goes on a killing spree at school? Well I can tell you video-games are always involved and given more attention than the fact that these students had access to firearms.
I know discussions like these are not exclusive to Germany (and take my views with a pinch of salt since I am naturally biased being a gamer) but the German government is one of the few governments in the western world (I feel your pain Australia) that has actually backed up the mass media's view on games and has on several occasions threatened to ban video-games depicting violence completely ( thankfully those threats were crushed by voters).
However that doesn't stop the USK (which is an acronym that translates roughly to Entertainment Software Self-regulation) from often censoring and in some cases even banning games such as Gears Of War or Dead Rising.
This is the actual size of the logo's on the game boxes
This "regulations" is wrong for many obvious reasons, one of them being that the USK is not entirely self-regulated, it raises eyebrows even further when games that you would think contradict with the guidelines of the USK do get released. I'm not complaining that games like Dead Space and Assassin's Creed are released in their full glory but it does raise the question of why games like Gears or even Doom are banned.
Apart from being inconsistent these regulations conflict a lot with my interests as an avid gamer. It seems like such a first-world problem but not being able to buy certain games is something that can be circumvented quite easily thanks to the internet and the generous shipping fee's of some online stores.
The bigger issue at hand is that admitting to having an interest in gaming can quickly get you chastised by the general public, because a large part of the media still depicts games very negatively. And if there is one thing that is popular in Germany it's gossiping, cross the line on how much you like video-games and many people will label you as a "freak".
This is not to say that all hope is lost. Admittedly the picture I have been painting here is a bit aged as in the last two-three years things have started to change and the gaming is seen in a better light by the public. As a whole gaming has become immensely popular in Germany and even the USK is starting to buckle under the criticism and becoming more lenient on which game it releases and censors. For example Gears Of War 3 will be released in Germany completely uncut.
I hope Germany stays headed in this direction as gaming is truly a wonderful and thoroughly entertaining medium that everyone should have the chance and opportunity to enjoy.
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