Wolfenstein 3D, the classic FPS based on the seminal PC hit Castle Wolfenstein, is considered one of the grandfathers of the FPS genre. Developed by id Software and released in 1992, the game was a smash success, building on other popular PC shooters at the time such as DOOM to create one of the most visceral gaming experiences of the decade.
Sadly, because of the games Nazi imagery, Wolfenstein 3D was banned in Germany. That is, until now.
First reported by the German-language website PCgames, Wolfenstein 3D has officially been removed from the German Ban list, more than 25 years after the game was released.
The ban list in question refers to Germany's criminal code, specifically section 86a, which prohibits the display or distribution of symbols from "unconstitutional organizations". The German Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle rating board, or USK, has been tasked with upholding the ban on Nazi and Communist symbolism for decades, with games either being banned outright or heavily altered for German audiences in lines with the code.
For years, video games were the target of section 86a, and never given exceptions under the law unlike other forms of media. Part of the reason for this involved a court case in 1998, where the German high district courts ruled that games like Wolfenstein 3D, because they would be in the hands of children "could lead to them growing up with these symbols and insignias and thereby becoming used to them, which again could make them more vulnerable for ideological manipulation by national socialist ideas"
This has changed, however, thanks to a new court ruling made in 2018, involving of all things, a web-based parody game Bundesfighter 2 Turbo. The game, which is a parody of politicians, featured right-wing leader Alexander Gauland who transformed into a Swastika as one of his special moves. The developers appealed any form of censoring of the game, with Germany's attorney general ruling that the exemption of art applies to video games, as well as the 1998 ruling is outdated and predates the introduction of age ratings in 2003.
The USK officially announced that it will start to make "case-by-case examinations" on content that falls under section 86a, and Wolfenstein 3D, 20 years removed from its previous court decision, has now officially been unbanned.
The USK is still in the early stages of this new case-by-case mandate, but Wolfenstein's removal from the German Ban list is a good step forward, possibly leading to the classic game, as well as other Wolfenstein titles, to be released unedited in Germany.
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