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

@Truec

Considering how big a role H&K plays in their economy, I seriously doubt Germany will take the anti-gun route.

Besides, scapegoating either games or guns is missing the point. Maybe instead of trying to put the blame on inanimate objects, we should look at the killer himself, and see what REALLY made him go nutso. Seriously, has the public every actually blamed the SHOOTER whenever something like Columbine happens?

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

I read nothing about ajil time for players in the article.

However the jailing video game creators bit is stupid unless it refers to online games. Think about where are most video game creators located, Japan and the U.S., do U.S. and Japan cititzens have to follow German laws? The answer is a big fat no. So we will still have grand theft auto and the like.

However still this is censorship no more no less. This could easily be compared to 1984, 'expose our citizens to something we deem innapropiate you get sent to the ministry of love' (For those of you who didn't read orwell's 1984, the ministry of Love is basically a combination prison/torture cell where people who didn't like the party were tortured and mistreated).

@Lazy

Thanks alot from that, it's good to know that this is indeed the ravings of single nutcase and not a somwhat joint opinion...

And honestly, asking where the weapons came from, looking to schools and homes for the source of problems, realizing that he lacks Media competence, realizing that the current systems are sufficant and that furthar bans would do NOTHING to solve the problems... Damn, we could use a few more pliticans like that here in the states; i mean, if we do have them they need to seriosuly speak up

For the most part, the only poeple here in the states that has that level of common sence are non-politcans... such as ordinary citizens, journalists, and a few others; you know, poeple with voice but no actual power...

Very "enlightened" comments from people here. Also very uninformed and simply extremely ignorant. You know nothing of other countries or their laws, so be careful what you say.

Americans shouldn't for one second think that their politicians are any different. They are just as dumb. At least the ones in power. This isn't any different from Jack Thompson and other American nutcases ranting. Same arguments, same mindset.

Beckstein is just the interior minister of a state. The states' rights in Germany aren't as extensive as in America. They can't pass such laws on their own, but merely influence the lawmaking process. At the end it still had to be decided by all states as well as by the federal government.
And some socialists as well as all opposition politicians have already labeled the idea idiotic and populistic.
He can get some other interior ministers on his side, but that's pretty much it.

What's worrisome that he would even propose such a blantantly unconstitutional law. But hey, American politicians tried that a dozen times and always failed. So don't act so high and mighty.

to add:
The American constitution is probably more strict in protecting the rights of its citizens (though we better not mention nonsense like the Patriot Act), but the German one also garantuees things like freedom of speech and personality. And there is even an article against censorship. That one can be "ignored" when it comes to the protection of children, but like stated in the recent Illinois case, the positive effects of a law needs to be weighed against its restrictions.
While some politicians can't see that, the Supreme Court would probably slap them down.

There is also the same mediahype over every case with quick accusations and solutions and completely wrong depictions of games. The laws are already stricter of course, but in general the situation isn't that different. People are people

On the other hand I'm glad that we don't have minority lobby groups like the PTC and other family organizations. Moreover noone here complains about sex. Everyone here laughs about Nipplegate for example :p

Actually whats getting to me the most with a lot of the other comments is the assumption that Beckstein is speaking the opinion of all of germany and not just himself... Seriously, as Lazy and a few other pointed out, he is rather alone in this nutcase cause he's starting... in no way should we lump together the rest of Germany with him...

Seriously, would you want poeple in other counties saying that Lieberman is speaking for all of american when he calls for cencorship of media? no? i didn't think so...

"How'd he get hold of the guns?" "Who cares, he had a game?"

Nice to know we have our priorities stright.

There are other politicians calling for stricter laws too.

But Beckstein is a special case. He's the only one who wants to criminalize millions of people and he usually makes the most extreme and bizzare comparisons, like videogames and child porn.
Note that this isn't the only area where he behaves like that. He is also very strict and reactionary with immigration or anti-terrorism laws. And he's well known for acting like that.

So the media gives him attention because he cries the loudest. But I'm sure other politicians don't take him entirely seriously either.

Daniel, stop stretching the fucking pages with those exclamation marks.

Yes, making guns illegal makes it hard for people who don't follow the law in the first place to get guns too... wait...

seriously I would like to see him try. I'm a software engineering major and hope to one day program games (likelyhood slim). But I'd leave the country before facing that.

@ Daniel
I'm not quite sure that is the best way to get your point across. I PLAY VIOLENT GAMES AND LOOK AT ME! I AM NOT VIOLENT AT ALL!!! RAAAWR! (insert an annoying amount of exclamation points here). Not to accuse you of being a violent person but that's what it sounds like to the passer-by

Perhaps the violent video games are just a type of outlet for an ALREADY violent person? I wonder why politicians never think about this. Not like this is news at all. Same old story, just change the name of the person saying it.

Psst! Hey man, wanna buy a game? You're over 18 right? Cool.

O crap it's the SS! HEIL FUHER!

I'm predicting that crime and violence will skyrocket once the only game left to play in Germany is My Little Pony Adventure.

You'd think that the country that gave us shieza videos would be a little more open minded.

@ Freekill

I only add extra exclamation marks to get my point across and to add emphasis to my point. I only want to get my point noticed and I don't like the idea that these games make people violent because they don't and, just to let you know, I'm NOT a violent person. I just want people to see my posts. That guy in Germany, that threw his life away, didn't do it because of Half Life Counter Strike. The notion that the game had anything to do with it is retarded. No one plays these games and then throws his life away acting it out. Their theories are crazy and full of holes big enough to drive a recking ball through. That's what I'm saying and when I say it, I tend to put a lot of emphasis on it.

Sorry if I pissed anyone off,
Daniel

Well be considerate of other people then.

Not too worried.

He's just some JT clone. I'm sure no one is taking him seriously.

@Daniel

no offence but it really isn't neceesary for you to try to drive your point across that angily (so to speak) no one here is pro-game censorship and nobody here belives game cause people to do violent things, or that rockstar markets to kids or any other BS the politicians and jack thompson would like us to believe. Any person that believed that crap who posted on these boards were always badly beaten in an argument, and quietly left the site. With the exception of Jack Thompson himself who trolled the sites never responded when someone madea counter-point spouted the worst BS you've ever heard, and compared us to Nazis. He was such a nuisance that gamepolitics changed its formatting style to be rid of him (we used to be a livejournal blog).

Looks like this Gunther Beckstein is desperate of getting rid of his career. That, or making a COMPLETE idiot out of himself.

Wait, he's already done the latter - no matter then..

@ Father Time

I'm well aware of the BS garbage lies of Jack Thompson. I've been to many other websites where one gamer even said that he thinks he's Jesus. That's how crazy Jack Thompson is. I started posting here because of him. I thought that the issue over video game violence was dead. Then I started going to gamespot.com and I found out that Jack Thompson was keeping it alive and I didn't want his lies to go uncontested. He thinks we're all morons and says very nasty things about us and that's why we need to fight back and we have to write letters to people in positions of authority that can get rid of and destroy his case. We need to get more active and make this guy's case disappear.

It's always a shame when a non-American country generates some news worthy of a place in Game Politics. It highlights how immature our little group can be, though thankfully it doesn't do it as well as places like the GameFAQs boards. (Shudder.) Among the more level-headed comments we have references to Nazis, complete disregard for the article's details of the politics involved, shouting, violent reactions, and a string of exclamation marks long enough to encircle the globe.

Is it any wonder people don't take us seriously enough?

One could also add that Beckstein IS NOT the German misnister of the interior, but the Bavarian. He is also one of the most conservative assholes in German politics and maybe even THE most conservative fuck-head that has such an improtant role.

And Crytek does NOT want to move somewhere else (as long as they can make their games here without fear of persecution, of course).

This is ridiculous. Politicians are always so quick to scapegoat anything which could have a believable incident to events lile this.
In this case, he was a Counter Strike player so obviously anyone who plays Counter Strikes wants to shoot everyone around them.
They need a quick answer to everything, and violent video games is the popular enemy of the children of the day so it is the easiest thing to put the blame on.
People should not jump to conclusions like this. Maybe Counter Strike was an influence on this kid, but if it was he likely has a fair amount of issues that go far beyond a little violence in a video game.
This kid's past should have been looked into before coming to any conclusions, as it is likely he may have been through a life that could potentially cost anyone to snap.

@ everyone bashing Germany

So... you're saying that Germany's full of fuckheads because of a couple politicians?

That's like the people that hate America because our asshole Representatives.

That's like the people that think gamers are TEH EBIL!!!11 because of a few psychopaths.

If you're going to be hypocrites, then leave my cousins out of it.

One last thing: NEVER compare modern-day Germany/the German populace in general to Nazis. EVER.

I know that it's a little late for this rant, but I just had to get it off my chest. I feel much better now.

@ grls-are-gamers-2

Indeed, I tried to avoid the references myself. I know that modern Germany is well aware of their dark past, and that they have seriously changed, and are making large cultural and technological contributions to the world. However, The amazing similarities between what this -one- guy is saying and what Nazi Germany did (In terms of censorship) are very obvious, and while it is unlikely that such a stupid and ludicrous law will ever be passed, the very Idea that anybody would consider it is bothersome to say the least, regardless of what country it is.

Nazi minister is naaaaazi

the more level-headed comments we have references to Nazis,

Well how can we resist, it is Germany, and so far this tops the chart as the most scary anti-gaming bill in existence. It is also very very Nazi-like. There is also the fact that Germany is trying to be less Nazi, and then one idiotic politician pulls this kind of crap bill which would make Germany more Nazi-like.

You know now that I think about it would be a bad thing if we DON'T compare this bill (just this bill not present-day germany) to the Nazis. I mean sure we can compare it to 1984 all we want but given everything I jsut said not comparing them to Nazis could possibly start a very large downword spiral where we end up completely forgetting everything about Nazi germany, and where it is not mentioned in history classes. And we all know we can't have that.

What bill? There is no bill!

It's just one idiot saying "We should create a bill to outlaw violent games". How is this any different from Jack Thompson's rantings?
There are some politicians who say "We shouldn't dismiss it out of hand and talk about it", but also many who realize that it's just pointless scapegoating and reactionism. They just need to prevail if anything more than talk comes out of this.

And I think the point is that many Americans are just quick to cry "Nazi" on the internet. Often on occassions so silly that it loses any meaning in the few cases when it might apply. But you can find censorship in any dictatorship. It's undemocratic, yes. But there is no need for some of the hyperbole shown here.

I agree people should refrain from the Nazi comments with regard to this issue. Excessive censorship alone (which this is) is not the defining characteristic of Nazism. It's a highly undesireable and stupid proposal, but that does not mean this has anything to do with Nazism.

As an American who has lived in Germany on two separate occasions for a total of 4 years, I'd like to say that I'm confident that today's Germans are quite democratic, compassionate and un-warlike (with the possible exception of the skinheads from the former East Germany, who are a small minority.)

As far as the person who suggesting putting the gun-makers in jail instead of the game makers... I'd point out that a gun is simply a tool, and one can easily kill people with any tool, such as butcher knives and claw-hammers! Why should a manufacturer have liability for the immoral and illegal misuse of a tool? I'd suggest a radical concept - put the CRIMINALS who ASSAULT people in jail....

How do we prevent stupid laws like this? The education system is critical to create an informed voting public capable of making good decisions in a democracy.

This law is foolish. A person could be sent to jail for playing Pac-Man by this logic.

[...] I guess the whole pacifict thing over there is really taking hold.  In any event, I’m a federal criminal in the USA for having downloaded the software that lets me watch DVDs on my Linux machine.  (It’s true.  People never believe me when I tell them this.)  But if I go to Germany, if a certain government minister gets his way, I stand to get locked up for playing Halo 2 on my Xbox.  Yipers.  I mean, I remember when Alan Cox didn’t come to the USA because he was afraid of the federal police locking up foreigners Dimitri Sklyarov-style for DMCA violations.  But now, what if there’s a scientific conference in Germany?  What if they found out that I’ve played Halo?  And we’re not even gonna talk about Grand Theft Auto…. [...]

"It is absolutely beyond any doubt that such killer games desensitise unstable characters and can have a stimulating effect."

You want the single most compelling argument against these types of politicians?

Try the U.S. government's own Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics graph for Serious Violent Crime By Perceived Age Of Offender (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/offage.htm).

Consider that the serious violent crime rate (and murder if you check those numbers too) has dropped pretty much year on year since 1993 - the year Doom, arguably the first "murder simulator," was released.

the very strong counter argument for this is that FPS games also provide an outlet for this type of behavior.. if these games are creating 1 murderer for every 5 it keeps under control, then these games should not be banned!!!

I love Germany. For everyone who knows more or less what that country's law says, you should know firearms are illegal there, just as they are in Britain.

That's why we all should be wondering where the kid got the gun from.

For what it's worth, I think banning firearms is a dangerous mistake for society. It's like banning cockroaches and insecticide at the same time (care to guess which one prevails?). This is evidence that firearms bans really don't work.

Looks like you all have a Jack Thompson wannabe in power over there in Germany.

I wouldnt be shocked if JT gives this guy a visit and cites him as an example of what we should do here.

Also, something like this happened in Greece a few years back, the first arrest and trial resulted in the law being shot down. You guys have a good chance of the same thing happening. I wouldnt say as much for any US laws that would come into effect though...

Either way, this guy is facing being voted out very soon.

This jerk-off sounds like another Jack Thompson type person. He should be the one arrested for trying to take away peoples right of self expression, if he doesn't like it then he shouldn't look at it or pay attention to it, that simple. Also, people like that should get smacked.

I think the real comparison is with South Dakota passing a law out lawing abortion this year. Blatantly unconstitutional, but popular with constituents.

Damn you all!

talk about overreaction!!!
some right wing loony politician is vying for visibility in the media and fishing for votes in his constituency (for beckstein is a loony - most germans know this) and all over the web people are talking about nazis and hitler.

get a life! all of you.

He gets misreported as Interior Minister of Germany (which he is not).
You misrepresent his views as german mainstream.
you congratulate yourself on living in a better country in which jail time for game developers is unimaginable.

well let me tell you something: it is just as impossible here.

and also note.
I could have found just as good a raving loony comment after the hot--coffee-mod affair.
I just don't put it on the front page and claim "this is america"

[...] Go to Jail, Go Directly to Jail... It now seems like FPS PLAYERS are being targetted.... GamePolitics.com

Hi GamePolitics, GET YOUR F***** FACTS STRAIGHT. The guy is NOT the Minister of interior of Germany, but of Bavaria.

Bavaria is just one of the 16 states of Germany, and by far the most conservative one. This is like asking a Texas republican about gay marriage and then saying: "Look, these fascist American want to make even LOOKING gay illegal!".

But at least the Germany-equals-Nazi-clown-squad had their fun with this. My advice for you guys: if you had watched what your country is doing NOW as closely as what my country did two generations ago, we all would have less problems...

I thuibk people like this "minister" get a huge hard on at the thought of incarcerating people. It's some perverted sexual thing with them.

This guy is obviously several fries short of a happy meal to even propose something like this. He should be impeached, because clearly he is incompetent.

As if the world didn't have enough f*cking facists in it already.

:I thuibk people like this “minister” get a huge hard on at the thought of :incarcerating people. It’s some perverted sexual thing with them.

No, people like this are brain dead reactionary fanatics. They don't belong in any position of power.

Jail for game developers??...

They have a very balanced and logical view of things in Germany...

Theres a good critique of this on www.takesthepiss.org. Taking away violent things does not take away violence, seems pretty obvious. Thena gain, this guy, whatever hes minister for / from, is in a position of national decision making power, and this request will ultimately make game developers responsible for the things that the game players do. Imagine what would happen if the TV companies faced the smae laws...

all i have to say is, "BOOOM HEADSHOT!!!!"

[...] GamePolitics.com: In Wake of Rampage, German Minister Wants Jail Time for Violent Game Creators, Distributors …and Players [...]

I know that this might break Godwin's Law, but it is nice to see that the fine Nazi tradition of banning things you don't like, and jailing those who do those things, is alive and well in Germany.

Oh first the Germans kill a lot of jews now they want to put people in jail for playing games?
 
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