17 Years After it Was Banned, Teenagers Can Now Buy Doom in Germany

  • 88 results
  • 1
  • 2
Posted by Alex (2389 posts) -

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."

Oh, the vile filth of it all...

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.

#1 Posted by Alex (2389 posts) -

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."

Oh, the vile filth of it all...

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.

#2 Posted by 2HeadedNinja (1770 posts) -

Actually ... it's Bundesprüfstelle ... the umlaut is important.

#3 Edited by mnzy (2925 posts) -

"Schlampen don't know 'bout my secret Wolfenstein levels" - Doom II
(Oh god, please don't tell them)

#4 Edited by CptBedlam (4457 posts) -

Fun fact: Gears 3 will be released uncut in Germany.

#5 Posted by Kyle (2325 posts) -

I dunno, I bet Yngwie Malmsteen could do a thing or two with a lute.

#6 Posted by CaLe (4052 posts) -

Do German games still need to have green blood? Always thought that was a bit silly.

#7 Posted by Dany (7887 posts) -

I am sure Germans have played doom, I don't think this ban was a huge preventive barrier for teens who use other means to play games.

Out of curiosity, was this ban on all 'doom' titles or just the first two?

#8 Edited by Sogeman (878 posts) -

The basically banned anyone from playing it even adults because they banned the sale of the game.
 Pretty sure they were only still banned because it takes quite a lot of time before you can appeal or maybe they just didn't do it.

@2HeadedNinja

said:

Actually ... it's Bundesprüfstelle ... the umlaut is important.

Oh Americans and their bad pronunciation of german and ability to write german ^^
#9 Posted by TheSeductiveMoose (3625 posts) -

MY GÖD ZE ÜMLÄÜTS, WHERE IS ZE ÜMLÄÜTS?!

#10 Posted by Torrim (346 posts) -

Commander and Conquer is "oh that game with robots!" over there. Super confusing.

#11 Edited by mnzy (2925 posts) -
@CptBedlam said:

Fun fact: Gears 3 will be released uncut in Germany.

Last I heard was that Epic is thinking of re-releasing Gears 1 and 2 because of that. Would be really nice, I was never able to get the DLC because they were never released here.
 

@2HeadedNinja

said:

Actually ... it's Bundesprüfstelle ... the umlaut is important.

Wow, he was really qucik to change that and yea...it's not important at all.
#12 Posted by Creamypies (4091 posts) -

I really hope there's a launch party.

#13 Posted by raiz265 (2242 posts) -
@Torrim said:

Commander and Conquer is "oh that game with robots!" over there. Super confusing.

C&C Generals is yeah, every character in that game was a cyborg from a parallel universe and the suicide bombers were oil barrels with wheels.
#14 Posted by CptBedlam (4457 posts) -

@mnzy said:

@CptBedlam said:

Fun fact: Gears 3 will be released uncut in Germany.

Last I heard was that Epic is thinking of re-releasing Gears 1 and 2 because of that. Would be really nice, I was never able to get the DLC because they were never released here.

I'm from Germany too I and still bought the Gears DLC packs, Doom, Dead Rising Case Zero etc. via VPN tunnel connection. It's not that hard to set up.

#15 Posted by mnzy (2925 posts) -
@CptBedlam: I know it's possible but that was always too much of a hassle and I didn't have another Ethernet port at the time.
#16 Posted by 2HeadedNinja (1770 posts) -

Hehe ... kudos@Alex, that was a pretty quick change ^^

#17 Posted by Pink_o_mat (206 posts) -

@Sogeman: You can appeal pretty soon after a ban, but the additional hearings take time and resources. I think it just wasn't viable from a financial point of view. Also, software piracy was rampant in germany at that time, nobody was buying PC games anyway.

@2HeadedNinja: It's "Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien"! Even more umlaute!

#18 Posted by NinjaCommando (102 posts) -

Congratulations!!! LOL

#19 Posted by atomic_dumpling (2482 posts) -
This institution has always been hypocritical. Their internal guidelines are so convoluted that the rulings are basically random. Take Dead Space for instance, which was neither censored nor banned. Compare this to titles like Borderlands, Bioshock and the Valve games which are heavily censored  - by the publishers themselves in anticipatory obedience in most cases, but censored nonetheless.
#20 Posted by Baal_Sagoth (1290 posts) -

Hmmm, gotta love Germany :(

Unfortunately that's just the tip of the iceberg. Actually I find it to be pretty fucking pathetic to even waste tax money and bureaucratic "effort" at this point. The whole idea of putting games on the 'index for media presenting a danger to children' is to cripple people's ability to monetize "violent" video games and therefore passively censoring media like that in the long run.

That fucking shit continues to happen without any reasonable argument behind it and bullshit concessions like this don't mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Fuck German media laws, seriously...

#21 Posted by 2HeadedNinja (1770 posts) -

@atomic_dumpling said:

This institution has always been hypocritical. Their internal guidelines are so convoluted that the rulings are basically random. Take Dead Space for instance, which was neither censored nor banned. Compare this to titles like Borderlands, Bioshock and the Valve games which are heavily censored - by the publishers themselves in anticipatory obedience in most cases, but censored nonetheless.

Even though I wish the Bundesprüfstelle was not nessecary I would disagree on that. Hardly any games ever get actually banned and when it comes to censoring ... it's mostly "you kill human beings in a realistic way and gain from it in any way" and ragdolls that makes sure your game will be 18+

#22 Posted by Baal_Sagoth (1290 posts) -

@2HeadedNinja: More than enough fucking hypocrisy for a constitution that supposedly doesn't allow censorship at all. There's nothing do defend really

#23 Posted by ShockD (2421 posts) -

Hmm wait. I still don't understand what they banned it for except because it has gory pixels.

#24 Posted by SHADOWINFINITE (545 posts) -

Power to the gamers! 

#25 Posted by InCertainSights (39 posts) -

@CptBedlam: yeah thats right but also Mortal Kombat (2011) came out uncut and like 3 weeks later they banned it from the market because of the heavy violence. so it´s likely that the same thing happens to Gears 3 here in germany.

@CaLe: no it´s not that bad anymore. some games come out without blood and without the ability to cut of body parts like in Fallout 3 and some games come out totally uncut and stay on the market. It has to do a little bit if you are like fighting against humans or zombies.

@2HeadedNinja: actually it´s called "Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien" (BPjM), ( Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons)

#26 Posted by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

I wasn't aware that Doom contains Nazi iconography, Alex. You're thinking of Wolfenstein.

#27 Posted by emem (1974 posts) -

I really hope Valve will allow Germans to buy every game "uncut" via Steam one day.. implementing an age verification can't be that hard. It's crazy that I still couldn't buy a single Quake game via Steam if I wanted to and cut versions of almost every game with blood in it do have whole parts removed and some don't even allow us to play a game in english (Low Violence: German low violence version only available with German language.) It's almost funny. :)

#28 Posted by PenguinDust (12629 posts) -

But the children!  Won't someone think of the children?

#29 Posted by Baal_Sagoth (1290 posts) -

@Hailinel: No, he's right. Doom contained a room with a swastika skylight or something to that effect. And that gets a game banned no matter what.

#30 Posted by SpiralEye (133 posts) -

They should have left the ban in place - now Germany is doomed..

#31 Posted by atomic_dumpling (2482 posts) -
@2HeadedNinja said:

Even though I wish the Bundesprüfstelle was not nessecary I would disagree on that. Hardly any games ever get actually banned and when it comes to censoring ... it's mostly "you kill human beings in a realistic way and gain from it in any way" and ragdolls that makes sure your game will be 18+

They are basically saying that slicing and dicing human corpses in Dead Space is somehow less "Harmful to Young Persons" than offing splicers in Bioshock. That seems questionable to me.
#32 Posted by Kartana (218 posts) -

I walked to my local game store today but they didn't have a copy. What a shame!

#33 Edited by buckybit (1455 posts) -

Motörhead BundesprÜfstelle Ünsinn

I can't believe somebody is defending the BPjM on GB! Here's what you don't get (whoever you are): YOU DON'T SHOOT HUMANS - IT'S A VIDEO GAME!!!

Germany after World War II was under the rule of the Allies. Every Nazi-Symbol was 'verboten' - and Germany kept those laws (and the censorship) alive. The BPjM is like the ESRB - only worse. Parent Organisations, Priests(!), Teachers, Politicians, are part of a non-democratic, not elected Gang of censors, judging if Movies, Music and Videogames are appropriate for consumption.

FUCK THEM, for banning id Software games for 2 decades and then some. Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Press and Freedom of Art (US Supreme Court recent ruling!) ... all those are restricted in Germany.

But there's House & Electronic Music, Crytek, Oktoberfest and LAN Parties - not all is lost? :)

#34 Posted by Forcen (1855 posts) -

This got me to play some doom on steam, it slows down and inverts its colors in fullscreen.

#35 Posted by 2HeadedNinja (1770 posts) -

@atomic_dumpling said:

@2HeadedNinja said:

Even though I wish the Bundesprüfstelle was not nessecary I would disagree on that. Hardly any games ever get actually banned and when it comes to censoring ... it's mostly "you kill human beings in a realistic way and gain from it in any way" and ragdolls that makes sure your game will be 18+

They are basically saying that slicing and dicing human corpses in Dead Space is somehow less "Harmful to Young Persons" than offing splicers in Bioshock. That seems questionable to me.

The difference is that the enemys in Dead Space are hardly recognizable as humans. As I said: I don't want games to be censored ... I was just trying to say that the reasoning they have (even if I don't agree) is not as covered up and mysterious as some people say.

#36 Edited by admanb (225 posts) -

@Baal_Sagoth said:

@2HeadedNinja: More than enough fucking hypocrisy for a constitution that supposedly doesn't allow censorship at all. There's nothing do defend really

The German constitution? It has a significant provision that allows for censorship.

#37 Posted by lockwoodx (2479 posts) -

@CptBedlam said:

I'm from Germany too

This explains everything.

#38 Posted by MisterMouse (3564 posts) -

FINALLY! I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS GAME!

#39 Posted by Nethlem (442 posts) -

1. It's "Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien" and not just "Bundesprüfstelle".

Just "Bundesprüfstelle" would mean "Federal place that review's" without actually saying what it's reviewing. If you wanna shorten it just write BPjM, which is short for the whole "prüfstelle medien"bleh...

But your english translation of "The Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons" is pretty spot on. Yes we germans love our departments for every kind of bullshit with fancy long names.

2. This is no sign of change at all, the board responsible for expanding those ban's is a board of 12 people. You make it sound like they reasoned with good arguments and finnaly saw the wrongs of their doings. They didn't... this whole thing had been a really close decission and quite a few of those 12 people would like to see the game still beeing banned.

This had been more luck then anything else (the people on the board change), sadly we germans still have a long way to go. Even our politicans believe we are some kind of idiot-population that needs media and free speech censorship so we won't start WW3....

#40 Posted by ShaggE (6700 posts) -

"This game will corrupt our country!" 
  
"But it's a historically significant game now!" 
 
"That changes EVERYTHING! I'll set up the LAN for some co-op!"

#41 Posted by Baal_Sagoth (1290 posts) -

@admanb said:

@Baal_Sagoth said:

@2HeadedNinja: More than enough fucking hypocrisy for a constitution that supposedly doesn't allow censorship at all. There's nothing do defend really

The German constitution? It has a significant provision that allows for censorship.

I'm not disputing the ability of governments to bend the core meaning of laws to their whim. I'm disputing the legitimacy and honesty of German media laws. I personally don't give a fuck about bureaucratic babbling when article 5 of the constitution states "Eine Zensur findet nicht statt" = There is no censorship. I know banning games is justified by "protecting" feeble minds from damaging media. I just disagree with that notion. You are free to love it of course.

#42 Posted by CptBedlam (4457 posts) -

@Buzzkill said:

@CptBedlam said:

I'm from Germany too

This explains everything.

Does it? And what exactly?

#43 Edited by CptBedlam (4457 posts) -

@InCertainSights said:

@CptBedlam: yeah thats right but also Mortal Kombat (2011) came out uncut and like 3 weeks later they banned it from the market because of the heavy violence. so it´s likely that the same thing happens to Gears 3 here in germany

1. There actually is a cut version of MK 9 for Germany. They only banned the foreign versions which never came out in Germany.

2. This can't happen to Gears 3 because it has already gotten a USK 18 rating and can't be banned in hindsight because of this.

#44 Posted by mnzy (2925 posts) -
@Baal_Sagoth said:

@admanb said:

@Baal_Sagoth said:

@2HeadedNinja: More than enough fucking hypocrisy for a constitution that supposedly doesn't allow censorship at all. There's nothing do defend really

The German constitution? It has a significant provision that allows for censorship.

I'm not disputing the ability of governments to bend the core meaning of laws to their whim. I'm disputing the legitimacy and honesty of German media laws. I personally don't give a fuck about bureaucratic babbling when article 5 of the constitution states "Eine Zensur findet nicht statt" = There is no censorship. I know banning games is justified by "protecting" feeble minds from damaging media. I just disagree with that notion. You are free to love it of course.

(2) Diese Rechte finden ihre Schranken in den Vorschriften der allgemeinen Gesetze, den gesetzlichen Bestimmungen zum Schutze der Jugend und in dem Recht der persönlichen Ehre.
#45 Posted by admanb (225 posts) -

@mnzy said:

@Baal_Sagoth said:

@admanb said:

@Baal_Sagoth said:

@2HeadedNinja: More than enough fucking hypocrisy for a constitution that supposedly doesn't allow censorship at all. There's nothing do defend really

The German constitution? It has a significant provision that allows for censorship.

I'm not disputing the ability of governments to bend the core meaning of laws to their whim. I'm disputing the legitimacy and honesty of German media laws. I personally don't give a fuck about bureaucratic babbling when article 5 of the constitution states "Eine Zensur findet nicht statt" = There is no censorship. I know banning games is justified by "protecting" feeble minds from damaging media. I just disagree with that notion. You are free to love it of course.

(2) Diese Rechte finden ihre Schranken in den Vorschriften der allgemeinen Gesetze, den gesetzlichen Bestimmungen zum Schutze der Jugend und in dem Recht der persönlichen Ehre.

I don't speak German. Does this mean I'm right?

#46 Edited by Baal_Sagoth (1290 posts) -

@admanb: @mnzy:

It means (very roughly translated) that the 'no censorship rule' is limited in cases concerning the protection of youth and personal honor.

I don't think I disputed this, like I already said, because I think it is obvious bullshit that banning video games is protecting youth or children from anything. A simple 18+ rating does that. Banning merely cripples the economic success of games and is thinly coated censorship in my opinion.

Edit: A ban prevents advertisments and free sales (in the same way hardcore porn is treated) instead of assuring sales to adults only. Germany has the 18+ rating to do latter. The former is effectively censorship.

#47 Posted by admanb (225 posts) -

@Baal_Sagoth said:

@admanb: @mnzy:

It means (very roughly translated) that the 'no censorship rule' is limited in cases concerning the protection of youth and personal honor.

I don't think I disputed this, like I already said, because I think it is obvious bullshit that banning video games is protecting youth or children from anything. A simple 18+ rating does that. Banning merely cripples the economic success of games and is thinly coated censorship in my opinion.

Don't get me wrong, Baal, I agree with you. Censorship is the worst way to deal with anything, even something that can be truly considered a problem to society.

All I'm arguing is your claim that the German constitution bans censorship, when it seems clear to me that that provision says it does no such thing.

#48 Posted by Vexxan (4614 posts) -

Have fun in the past, Germany.

#49 Edited by Baal_Sagoth (1290 posts) -

@admanb: Yeah, I suspected we don't disagree. I don't really want to split hairs here either, but making a strong anti-censorship statement in the constitution (as a response to the out-of-control Nazi banning pratice) and then proceeding to limit that law in any case that is convenient to the current government is just silly.

What is dangerous to youth in media? Homosexual content? Strong human rights claims? Anti-authoritarian sentiments? Censorship will eventually be limitless if it isn't kept in check at all costs. Banning MK and Doom is by no means a sign of censorship that is under control and limited to the most severe cases ;)

But anyways, I almost always freak out when it comes to this topic because of my personal bias and we don't really have any conflicting points on the matter I think!

#50 Posted by Superfriend (1585 posts) -
@Baal_Sagoth said:

Hmmm, gotta love Germany :(

Unfortunately that's just the tip of the iceberg. Actually I find it to be pretty fucking pathetic to even waste tax money and bureaucratic "effort" at this point. The whole idea of putting games on the 'index for media presenting a danger to children' is to cripple people's ability to monetize "violent" video games and therefore passively censoring media like that in the long run.

That fucking shit continues to happen without any reasonable argument behind it and bullshit concessions like this don't mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Fuck German media laws, seriously...

Yes! Yes, a 100 times yes. BTW, it was really hard to buy these games in Germany, even if you were an adult. They were basically not stocked by the bigger retailers. You had to find a small shop that would stock it or import it just for you. I remember paying a LOT of money for Goldeneye 64 that way.
 
Oh yeah and: Fuck you BPjM! I hope you see the error of your ways now.. next up: removing Quake 1 from the friggin ´index

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.