Just recently, Germany lifted the ban of Bethesda’s Fallout 3 on the grounds that it’s content is no longer harmful to minors from today’s perspective. When released, the first person experience was placed on the governments Federal Department for Media Harmful to Minors list which put an immediate halt to sales. Thankfully the publisher has appealed for a reconsideration regarding the ruling, and the ban has been lifted according to IGN Germany. This process included “detailed application letters, costs of up to several thousand Euros, and scrutiny from a ‘Big Council’ of 12 delegates made of German community organizations, State Assessors, and Department of Media Harmful to Minors Group Members.” which shows that the choice to make the game legal was no small matter, but rather a very large and very expensive one. The department ended up stating that “its (Fallout 3) content is no longer classified as harmful to minors from today’s perspective.”
A Bethesda representative stated “Recall that the German release had lower violence. Not related to anything other than our German office asking them to reconsider their original ruling, particularly in light of the recent release of Fallout 4.”
This also is not the first time Bethesda made case to the German government to lift a ban from one of their works, seeing as the ban on Doom was lifted just in 2011 after a long 17 years.
This case also makes for some very important discussions. For example, if we go off of the German Federal Department for Media Harmful to Minors’ statement referring to how the perspective of content can be changed throughout time, how many more banned games will people around the world get to experience (i.e. “Left 4 Dead 2” in Brazil because of extreme impact violence against zombie creatures., “Heavy Rain” in Saudi Arabia because of high impact violence, nudity and a sex scene., “Reservoir Dogs” in New Zealand because of low impact violence and cruelty., etc)? Another very important question that is raised is at what point is censorship in Video Games considered unfair and worth the expensive appeal process?
As the world evolves, we can only hope that our fellow man on all corners of the earth will get to experience the same games that we enjoy, whether that be Manhunt 2 (banned in South Korea for “gross, unrelenting, and gratuitous violence) or even Hearts of Iron (banned in China for portraying Tibet, Sinkiang, and Manchuria as independent countries and Taiwan as under Japanese control). Though, with big game releases such as Fallout 4 hitting the market, and appeals being made the future is looking bright for Gamers everywhere.