New laws for PC Games in Germany

vbimport

#1

On April 1, there will be new laws concerning video games in Germany, and the age of people who may buy and play them.

At first, something about German laws about “violent games”:
Games which are considered dangerous for children / teenagers can be put onto the Index.
If a game is to be put there, it has to be checked by the BPjS (Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdente Schriften). Only they decide about that, no one else. They are no members of the government and work independently.

Games which are there must not be advertised, nor be visible in any shops. Someone who wants to buy such a game must ask the vendor for that certain game; the vendor is not allowed to answer a question such as “which indexed games can you get me?”.
Furthermore, if your age is not obviously 18 or more, he has to ask for a proof for your age (pass port, driving license, or whatever).

Being on the index does not mean “banned”. Only very few games are really banned, such as the US version of RTCW.
Being on the index really means the abovestated. Not more, not less (unless I forgot a point :stuck_out_tongue: )

A bit of history first:
As some of you might remember, some time ago, there had been a masacre in Erfurth, where a 16 years old guy killed a lot of people in a school.

About 5 minutes after this tragedy, all local and non-local TV stations knew with 100% certainty that this guy played Counterstrike all day, for the one and only purpose of training and preparing this masacre.

The police found out that this guy did neither possess Counterstrike nor an Internet connection, but this was a detail unsuitable for the government as well as for the majority of newspapers.
Only larger stations which could risk reporting the truth (gaining less publicity among average non-gamers aged 60+) mentioned this small detail.

What was going on then?
The government wanted Counterstrike to be put to the index. The BPjS checked the game, and found that “although killing people is a part of the game, it is not the only content…” and that “team work to achieve a certain goal is also an important part”…and rejected the request!

The workaround for this was simple: Changing the laws!

This is what is coming now:

There will be not only “index” or “not index”, but different ages for what games can be certified: none, 6, 12, 16 and 18.
For the purpose of abbreviation, I will call games which are certified for a certain age “FSK xx”.
Games which are certified “FSK 18” must not any longer be sold online. Imported games, which are not certified at all (such as Diablo 2 US version) are automatically considered dangerous and will be considered “FSK 18”, unless the publisher has them certified by a corresponding organisation.

Since FSK 16 games can be ordered online, nothing will prevent a 14 years old teenie to order a FSK 16 games…except for his parents.

The German magazine GameStar had a nice headline for their article: “Protection of Youth? Yes! Protection against Politicians”

Now some questions you should think about:

Do you know about similar development in your country?
Who is responsible to have a look at games children play? The government or the parents?
Do you think the German way is any good?

BTW, according to what I read, Counterstrike would probably be certified FSK 16, if it were new and had to be checked.


#2

Do you know about similar development in your country?

I believe there are some rules in the Netherlands, but I don’t know for sure what they are. Probably something like age-indiction etc…

Who is responsible to have a look at games children play? The government or the parents?

I guess that’s up to the parents… computergames aren’t doing any more harm than tv, magazines etc etc do! Yes, kinds can buy porn magazines and watch any tv they like, as long as their parents don’t interfere.

Do you think the German way is any good?

Nopez, certainly not. I don’t see games as the cause of bad things as violence. People that are sensible to the effect of playing violent games, as well as watching violent tv (what about violent cartoons?) and reading violent comics, will get in trouble, no matter what’s forbidden. To those people, these games will always be easy to get anyway (no matter of what age they are)… and the others won’t suffer from it, I guess…

I remember killing thousands of people on my C64… I ended up fine… no worries :slight_smile:


#3

People that see games as a prelude to violent behaviour really need to get a life. Sure kids shouldn’t be allowed to play some of them but they’re only games. As dee-ehn said there’s a lot more violence on T.V. than in games


#4

I wonder if Buffy is going to be considered FSK 16 :eek: (according to current german laws, this would mean that it may be broadcasted only after 10pm) if they don’t stop this…


#5

Originally posted by alexnoe
I wonder if Buffy is going to be considered FSK 16

That could be good, since that could allow more nudity :o


#6

This really sucks. Good thing I dont live in Germany though. Is it true that they ban sequels of violent games even before they are realeased in Germany? I read in a magazine that games such as Quake and its sequels are banned even before they are released in the German market.


#7

This really sucks. Good thing I dont live in Germany though.
Well, people don’t buy games if they are not allowed to. They just get them from somewhere else.

Games can hardly be banned before releasing the market, because the BPjS has to check them. And publishers pay attention that the BPjS does not get their hands on them before the games hit the market :wink:

And no version of quake is, as to my knowledge, banned. They are only on The Index.


#8

Originally posted by alexnoe
[B]Well, people don’t buy games if they are not allowed to. They just get them from somewhere else.

Games can hardly be banned before releasing the market, because the BPjS has to check them. And publishers pay attention that the BPjS does not get their hands on them before the games hit the market :wink:

And no version of quake is, as to my knowledge, banned. They are only on The Index. [/B]

Ah, then PC Gamer lied to me again! Not only have they not sent me an issue in 5 months but they are printing false information too!

Just out of curiosity, why would BPjS need to check out Quake if they know based on previous versions of it that it is going to be the same violent gameplay with better graphics?


#9

They have to, due to currently valid laws :wink:

I think they can “accelerate” the procedure of reviewing in this case, but I’m pretty sure that they must have a look at it (otherwise they could index Quake 4, even if it had a reduced level of violence which would qualify it for people aged 16).

Ah, then PC Gamer lied to me again! Not only have they not sent me an issue in 5 months but they are printing false information too!
I would be interested in where they get their information from.
I’m pretty sure that they do not get it by reading corresponding information on german sites, written in german…

Do you remember the news when BMG admitted that customers are sour because of compatibility issues with protected audio CDs and that this might cause lower sales?
Well, I have read both the english and the french version on zdnet, and they were not exactly the same…

And, printing false information for publicity is very common, not only in USA.
For example, CHIP has written already twice that current Teac CD recorders could copy StarForce 3 titles, and that LiteOns could not read protected audio, others write that one should not burn audio faster than 8x, or more crap.

This can be due to disknowledge, or due to the attempt of gaining publicity. For many german PC magazines, it’s both…and I doubt that it’s different for english ones :wink:


#10

Do you know about similar development in your country?
In sweden we only have recomendations. the only one I’ve seen is 18 though but the sellers don’t need to follow them and they don’t. So it would be no prob. for a 12 year old to buy GTA3 which is rated 18
Who is responsible to have a look at games children play? The government or the parents?
The parents. The governmet doesn’t try to interfere.
Do you think the German way is any good?
I think it’s a little too strict that you need to prove that you’r 18+ to buy some “scary” game. But I also think it’s good that they try to control it especially since I talked to my 9 year old cousin who told me he thought GTA3 was fun because you could pick up a rifle and shoot peoples heads off and see the blood spraying everywhere.

I heard somewhere that EU is working on a game age rating much like the swedish system but more unified and with more different ratings I think it was 3(!),6,9,12,15,18 or something similar (cant find the magazine)

And I also have a question. Is it true that they release special versions of games in germany with green blood and the likes? Read that in swedish PC gamer I think.

edit made questions itallic - easier to read


#11

LOL this is not very good for you. :confused:


#12

And I also have a question. Is it true that they release special versions of games in germany with green blood and the likes?
Yes. Sometimes, humans are replaced by robots…
Since green is the color of Vulcan blood, they may soon use other colors :rolleyes:

But I also think it’s good that they try to control it especially since I talked to my 9 year old cousin who told me he thought GTA3 was fun because you could pick up a rifle and shoot peoples heads off and see the blood spraying everywhere.
His parents should take care of this, shouldn’t they…


#13

His parents should take care of this, shouldn’t they…

Yes I guess they should…