In Wake of Rampage, German Minister Wants Jail Time for Violent Game Creators, Distributors ...and Players

December 6, 2006 -
According to a report in Spiegel, a bloody school shooting in Germany last month has led to renewed calls for action against violent games.

As reported by GamePolitics,  an 18-year-old Counter-strike player assaulted his former middle school in November, wounding a reported 37 people before taking his own life.

The rampage led Minister of the Interior Gunther Beckstein to propose amendments to German law which would authorize prison sentences for those who create or distribute game content which features "cruel or otherwise inhumane acts of violence against humans or humanlike creatures."

The real shocker is that Beckstein would lock up violent game players as well.

Penalties proposed by Beckstein include up to one year in jail and/or fines.

GP: The translation of original web page was accomplished via Google, so it's rather imprecise. I have made small edits to the Beckstein quotes which seem contextually correct.

UPDATE: MSNBC has more, including a quote from Frank Sliwka, head of the Deutsche E-Sport Bund, which coordinates online gaming competitions:
Now we are being labelled as a breeding ground for unstable, dysfunctional and violent youngsters.

MSNBC also reports that Interior Minister Beckstein has reached his own conclusions about violent games:
It is absolutely beyond any doubt that such killer games desensitise unstable characters and can have a stimulating effect.

The article further speculates on what such a ban might mean for the March, 2007 PlayStation 3 launch in Europe. Top titles for the beleagured system include shooter Resistance: Fall of Man and Call of Duty 3.


Comments

I hate when people dont no any thing about a subject bad. The kid had problems thats why he killed those people, not because of what he did in his free time. It sounds like that kid was so messed up he went home and cryed himself to sleep. Maybe if he remebered what his country did sixty years ago he would remember to keep his mouth shut.

When I woke up this morning, I THOUGHT I was living in the 21st century. I've seen some ridiculous anti-gaming laws proposed, but this definitely takes the cake.

On a side note: The age of the average gamer is approaching 30 (it may have already reached it recently, I'm not sure). The age of the average politician is approximately 60. Out of touch with the world much?

Ironically, one of the players you can be in Counter Strike is the German counter terrorist specialist police force.

So, if by inhumane violence he means "play a game that exaggeratedly simulates what our country's special forces do" then, maybe we should think about what inhumane is.

Where did this guy get these guns anyway?

Wow, so now making movies, tv shows, books, comics, and paintings about "inhumane acts of violence against humans" gets you jail time?

Oh wait, he just means video games. Well I guess it's ok then... /sarcasm
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Great, someone who wants to destroy and industry. What does he define inhumane as? What does he define as cruel. What ever happened to the right to tell a story. What about books movies and art. Why aren't they under the microscope.


okay calm down calm down....... erk...



Now I wonder what Daniel will have to say on the subject.

Wow. Germany sucks humongous cock and yet again have a PM who goes around banning media and trying to round up those who enjoy said media.

France: just launch a pre-emptive strike now before it's too late!

The weird thing is that §131 StGB already says that. Beckstein's suggestions are more or less only a rewording of what's already law in Germany.

http://bundesrecht.juris.de/stgb/__131.html

Isn't this the same guy who, several years ago when another school shooting happened, said that he expects that kind of behavior from American students, not German students?

Screw him.

Wow. Germany sure knows how to learn from its past, can't it?

I'd like to add that Beckstein doesn't really have that much support on this:

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/0,1518,452713,00.html

Also, because of this, Edmund Stoiber, wants to ban all "killing games" and is making a bid for chancellor. It's basically like George W. Bush, Jack Thompson, and Jerry Fallwell were one person. And were governor of New York.

You ever have one of thows days, where you think you have heard the dumbest thing ever, But then something like this comes along and totally trumps it? Ya, I think I had that day today.

Ayone willing to bet that Jack Thompson uses this as another "Fine example" of videogame legislation? e.e $10 says he mentions it in his next press release.

Poor Germany

I'm going to be shocked and appalled when EVERYTHING gets banned, yet the killing continues.

this just sounds like a knee jerk reaction from asshole politicians, whathe is proposing is illegal under the human rights act in europe and not only that but it's against common sense too if they were to even attempt to bring in such a law there would be uproar and germany would only be making a laughing stock of itself and shooting itself in the foot as far as rvenue from the games industry is concerned

I’m going to be shocked and appalled when EVERYTHING gets banned, yet the killing continues.

Why? It's not like we don't already know there's no merit to "games incite violence".

Hmmm.... Germany restricting or banning any media It's government doesn't like? Wow, It's almost like they've done this before. Seriously, How could anybody not notice the similarities between this and a certain german government from the past...

[...] A new law being drafted in Germany states that if you play, distribute or create a violent video game you can get jail time. This is according to GamePolitics.com (you can read the story here). According to a report in Spiegel, a bloody school shooting in Germany last month has led to renewed calls for action against violent games. [...]

JAIL TIME FOR THE DEVELOPERS AND RETAILERS??? Who does this fascist fuckhead think he is? Killer games? Somebody should enact jail time for killer politicians. They instill me with the urge to kill far more than any video game I've ever played!

I, for one, support Herr Beckstein. To show my support, I shall now sing the German national anthem.

Die Fahne hoch! Die Reihen fest geschlossen!
SA marschiert mit mutig-festem Schritt...


/sarkasmus

Well, if nothing else, the extreme position this German politician has on violent video games sure makes you feel a lot better about the less radical anti-game legislators here in the U.S. I don't honestly see how a law can be passed that criminalizes violent games without also criminalizing violent movies, TV shows, etc. It'd be like saying, "pornographic movies are banned, but pornographic magazines are still okay."
Maybe he's just pissed off about all the WW2 games.

The sad thing is that when the inevitable IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE comes, he will only know about the story because he read it on GP. Not that he'll admit to anything other than being on first name terms with the minister, of course.

Lost would have been banned by "Confidence Man." Or before, if you count Sawyer's gunshot to the lung.

Look guys, this is just one of a few bad apple politicians - he's not going to get anywhere with this. We don't have exactly what you have for a Constitution in America in Europe, but the freedom of speech is safely guarded by laws all over the Union and countries that aren't in it. If this guy tries to get this law through it'll end up just like all the video game laws politicians in America have tried to get through in the last few years. It won't hold.
He doesn't even have much support, as that article linked by Lazy said.

Hmmm... great examples of calm peaceful responses... from some of the people here.

Seriously, though. I want to know where these people get the idea that video games are mind control devices for destruction. I'm sorry, I spent most of my high school years playing Counter-Strike, and I hate guns. I almost refuse to touch them. I've never been especially violent as it is, but I have become even less violent because of what I have seen in the media. Not more.

I'm not saying that there are no people that become more aggressive and violent because of video games, but claiming video games as the primary factor is beyond absurd, and I'm getting pretty tired of these politicians and bureaucrats pretending that they understand the cure to all the world's ills.

Really, even if such a law is approved in Germany (which won't happen), Germany will find itself is some serious trade law troubles with the rest of Europe.

Since there seems to be some confusion. Most of what Beckstein proposes is already law in Germany:

(please note that "writings" here does not only apply to written media, but all kinds of media like movies or video games)

---

§ 131 Representation of Violence

(1) Whoever, in relation to writings (Section 11 subsection (3)), which describe cruel or otherwise inhuman acts of violence against human beings in a manner which expresses a glorification or rendering harmless of such acts of violence or which represents the cruel or inhuman aspects of the event in a manner which injures human dignity:

1. disseminates them;

2. publicly displays, posts, presents, or otherwise makes them accessible;

3. offers, gives or makes them accessible to a person under eighteen years; or

4. produces, obtains, supplies, stocks, offers, announces, commends, undertakes to import or export them, in order to use them or copies obtained from them within the meaning of numbers 1 through 3 or facilitate such use by another,

shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than one year or a fine.

(2) Whoever disseminates a presentation of the content indicated in subsection (1) by radio, shall be similarly punished.

(3) Subsections (1) and (2) shall not apply if the act serves as reporting about current or historical events.

(4) Subsection (1), number 3 shall not be applicable if the person authorized to care for the person acts.

---

Still, relatively few games get banned, mostly because they aren't even released in Germany or are toned down by the publisher or developers.

Weiila, are you German? Just asking because I want to hear what someone from Germany has to say about this. I don't know very much about German laws.

There is absolutely no way that this could pass. It's such an obvious violation of basic rights it will be laughed out of court. What bothers me is that this nut is even trying. I mean, yeah you might get some publicity, but in the end, It just pisses people off, and makes other people not even want to be mentioned in the same sentence as you.

This seems to be yet another representation of an older generation being scared of anything new, full of 60 year old politcians who think they know what's best for everyone, In spite of the fact that they have never bothered to research the medium/never thought about what anyone else thinks/never looked out the window. Only this time, It's in Germany. I predict that as soon as a new entertainment medium comes out, people will look back at this and shake their heads, just like when we look back at the whole Elvis Presley debacle.

@Lazy and Weiila

Could one of you give us a brief summary of what the link you posted says... i doubt many poeple here speak german

I like how he said 'unstable characters', instead of 'every child, the children need protecting, what are parents?'

@Monte

It basically says the the reactions were to Beckstein's proposal were mixed then lists a few statements.

Monika Griefahn (SPD) said that the current legislation is sufficient and she doesn't really understand what Beckstein wants to add to it. She also says that the shop assistants should be better educated about the ratings system.

Bodo Ramelow (not sure who he is, but I guess he's from some Counterstrike clan) says that the politician have in most cases no clue what they're talking about when it comes to video games and that they themselves lack the "media competence" they often demand from the parents.

Dieter Wiefelspütz (SPD) says that the existing laws should be checked again, but a discussion about bans would be a sign of helplessnes. He suggests that reasons for violence should be looked for at schools and homes.

Grietje Bettin wants to know where the weapons came from. She thinks that a ban on violent games wouldn't solve anything and asks for better methods to detect people who are socially isolated.

Hans-Joachim Otto (FDP) calls Becksteins ideas naive and says this would criminalize the developers and large parts of the video gaming community. He also warned of the dangers of censorship.

Joachim Herrmann (CSU) says something urgently needs to be done about those "killergames" and says he even wants to censor TV too. Because of the children or something.

Correction: Of course Bodo Ramelow is NOT from some Counterstrike clan - he's from the Left Party. Silly me. :)

Awaiting JT Press release/very pissed post from daniel/ETC in 3.....2......1....

Oh Christ! No wonder Crytek wants to move somewhere else. Britain will gladly have them and I'd gladly work for them...

Um, this came out of GERMANY. These are the same assholes who tried to take over the world TWICE! I've been there. Very beautiful country. Very angry people.

Course, I don't look to them for the best ideas on preventing violence. What a bunch of whak-a-doos.

@Grahamr

Look out, it's the post from ETC! Anyone remember when I was posting from Germany about five months ago and how I said that at least the German government wasn't entirely strohdumm(empty-headed)? I shall now proceed to retract that statement.

Mmmm really Germany only needs to go 1 or 2 levels up from where they are now to totally ban violent games.

Reichstag fire decree anyone?

Leave it to germany to get high and mighty while forgetting it's own history.

I suppose they forgot about hitlers Book burnings, his domination of the airwaves, and blood shed it led to.

Ah how easily some people forget.

Say what you will, I'd rather be here in the USA then over there, our politicans maybe scumbags, but they aren't this crazy.

Not to mention when it comes to game laws, our Poli's are incompetent!

Germany needs a new slogan. I got one.

"Come to the new Germany, for a Fuzzy kind of facism"

Lunacy.

Germany just doesn't like games because most of our more recent FPS games target them and their armed forces specifically. :P

Seriously though, I'm not surprised by this. An old man over in Germany is bound to be as out of touch with the today's youth as the old men over here are out of touch with today's youth. This has nothing to do with his ancestry, it's got everything to do with a hot button issue.

"Protect the children" will always work, no matter what country it's in.

More to the point, after a shooting like this people WANT something or someone to blame. All too often the shooter decides to take his own life, leaving the populace with no single person to shove the blame on. They can't watch his life deteriorate around him because he's taken it. They won't take it out on parents who are in grief at the loss of their own child, or at least the media won't.

Claiming poor parenting and the need for therapy doesn't sell ad space on TV. Saying videogames are destroying our youth does.

This is crazy. An insane person assaults people and now Germany wants to ban all violent video games? Damn I'm glad I don't live there. The madness has to stop! Violent video games have nothing to do with psychopaths who go out and kill! He would have assaulted those people anyway. He was insane! The video games he played didn't have anything to do with that. The prime minister of Germany must have been listening to Jack Thompson and his retarded buddy, David Grossman, to sink so low. Only those two morons could come up with those kinds of conclusions.

Reading these kinds of things makes me furious at the lies of Jack Thompson and David Grossman. The people who do things like this are crazy and they need to be put into mental institutions instead of being allowed to roam the streets. Also many people, who have never played video games, have gone on killing sprees. Video games have nothing to do with it at all and they are innocent and must be vindicated and seen as what they are. An innocent form of entertainment. Say it with me. Violent video games do NOT make people violent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

@ Lots of people

Not all of Germany is endorsing this plan of action you know...

@Daniel

Don't use so many exclamation marks and don't get so excited.

@Daniel:

I don't think "Germany" wants to ban violent games, just two politicians want to ban them - more or less. And the one mentioned in the article isn't the "prime minister" of Germany, he's the interior minister of Bavaria.

Germany doesn't even have a prime minister. We have a chancellor. Mrs Merkel.

Good going, ya Nazi fucker.

Heil Gunther! Heil Gunther!


He deserves the title 'Minister of INFERIOR' (Clockwork Orange references FTW)

He cant arrest game developers because alot of them are either in Japan, America, France and the UK. Name one developer that is German in origin.

We knew this was coming. This is the last and final straw.

Germany claims have parted themselves from their fascist past, but its quite obvious that they haven't learned a bit

I swear to god if this spreads to America, there is going to be an uprising at hand

@gordon frohman

Crytek, makers of Far Cry and the upcoming Crysis are from Germany. Far Cry had to be censored before release, I believe.

Jailtime for creators and resellers of games? I have a better idea. How about jailtime for the people who made and sold THE FUCKING GUNS! At least that makes some kind of sense.
 
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