Plop down a modern teenager in front of a PC running a copy of the original Doom, and you're likely to get a response similar to what you might get if you handed Yngwie Malmsteen a lute, or asked Travis Pastrana to tool around in an Edsel for a few races. That is, of course, because teenagers are all awful, spoiled brats who clearly don't know how good they have it, compared to how things were back in our day. That's especially true of any kid who might have tried to play Doom in Germany. They couldn't, because the German government banned any non-adults from playing it, due to its then-considered "violent content."
Evidently, the Germans no longer view that violent content as particularly harmful to the minds of teenagers, as the ban on both Doom, and its follow-up, Doom II: Hell on Earth, was allowed to expire as of midnight last night, according to a report from the BBC. The Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons (or Bundesprüfstelle, if you're into the whole "German" thing) recently heard arguments from Doom creator id Software's parent company, Bethesda Softworks, and opted to let the ban lapse, due to the fact that the game is really only relevant at this stage of its existence as an "artistic and scientific" curiosity.
What this means is that Doom and Doom II could actually go on sale in Germany--though the version of Doom that contains swastikas and other Nazi symbols remains banned--and be sold to anyone 16 or older. While the likelihood of Doom somehow finding its way into retail stores seems...unlikely, at best, this would allow digital re-releases of the game to finally be legally sold to teens.
Interestingly, the BBC notes that other versions of Doom, such as the Game Boy Advance version of the game, have been sold at various times in Germany, but the PC versions and most other iterations remained banned, for seemingly inexplicable, and perhaps somewhat hypocritical reasons.
If nothing else, this story does show that, as time rolls on, recognition of games like Doom for their historical significance is becoming a more commonplace assessment. With any luck, perhaps this signals that the days of banning games for the sake of "protecting the children" are perhaps finally beginning to come to a close, albeit in exceedingly belated fashion.
We at Giant Bomb look forward to 15 years from now, when the Bundesprüfstelle finally gets around to unbanning Gears of War. We figure it ought to be a historical curiosity by that point.