It’s hard to imagine but Germany authorities are starting to look serious about imposing a total ban on violent videogames in the country.
Backlash against violent videogames followed in the wake of a school shooting in the small German town of Winnenden, which resulted in the deaths of 15 people plus the shooter himself. Although videogames appeared to play a relatively minor role in the killer’s life, the mere fact he played them was enough to trigger the predictable angry calls for tighter restrictions. German officials compared videogames to drugs and child pornography and the head of the Hessen German Police Union went so far as to call for an outright ban on violent games, saying that videogame addiction was a central component of “every situation in which a violent rampage has occurred.”
But as the immediate crisis recedes, it appears that cooler heads are not prevailing. Support for a complete ban has actually snowballed to the point that the Interior Ministers of all 16 German states have joined together to seek a ban on the production and distribution of violent videogames. The Ministers want the restrictions implemented before the parliamentary elections which are scheduled for September 27.
As GamePolitics notes, such a ban would affect not only German consumers but also German game developers, foremost among them Crytek, the company behind the indisputably-violent Far Cry and Crysis franchises. If a ban is put into place, Crytek would apparently have to outsource violent game development or, more likely, relocate entirely; Crytek President Cevat Yerli has previously said the company would move rather than attempt to work within the confines of a ban, claiming that he’s been approached by officials from England, Scotland, Austria and Singapore about expanding into their countries.
I have no idea how likely it is that this ban will be implemented nor whether it could be challenged in German courts, but I am surprised that the anti-videogame hysteria has reached this point at all. Germany has admittedly had some problems with impulse control over the last 100 years or so but attempting to enforce pacifism through a complete ban on violent videogames is swinging way too far in the other direction.