Germany loosens ban on Nazi symbols in video games

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Hitler-style mustaches and swastikas can now be used in video games in some instances, German regulators have ruled.

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Germany's constitution forbids the use of symbols deemed "anti-constitutional," including Nazi party-affiliated symbols, and violation of those rules can result in jail time. Yet although such symbols can be used in certain sectors under artistic freedom laws -- for example, in films portraying the Nazi era -- the video gaming industry had long been a gray area.

This week, the German Entertainment Software Self Regulation Body (USK), which is tasked with regulating content in the video game industry, determined that Hitler-style mustaches and swastikas can now be used in the video game "Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus."

Previously, swastikas were replaced with a neutral triangular symbol and Hitler was depicted without a mustache in the German edition of the game, which is based around an alternate reality in which the Nazis won World War II.

Moving forward, the regulatory body's judges will decide on a case-by-case basis if such content has "an artistic or scientific purpose, or helps to depict current or historical events," the organization said in a statement.

"Through the change in the interpretation of the law, games that critically look at current affairs can, for the first time, be given an age rating by the USK,” Elisabeth Secker, the USK's managing director, said in a statement.

"This has long been the case for films and with regards to the freedom of the arts, this is now rightly also the case with computer and video games," she added. "The committees of the USK will also perform this task with great care, competence, and responsibility."