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Germany Tightens Censorship on Game Violence

Germany is infamous for strict censorship on video games and films with high levels of violence and other "inappropriate" material. Now it's not just the censors that action movie and shooter fans have to worry about. Even stores are tightening the noose around virtual violence.

In the wake of the school shooting by a 17-year-old former student last week, German department store chain Galeria Kaufhof will stop selling video games and movies with 18+ ratings. First-person shooters, violent movies and horror films usually fall into this category. In addition, some people are calling for all 18+ rated material to be banned from the country altogether.

The reasoning behind this rather drastic move comes from media reports and politicians stating that a significant factor influencing the former student was that he played Counter Strike regularly. This is not surprising, as attention is often focused on video games by the media whenever violent acts with young people occur.

The German Game Developers Association hit back at the move by Galeria Kaufhof. Managing director Stephan Reichart said he thinks “[Kaufhof's decision] is a complete overreaction... it borders on impulsive hysteria.”

Previous extreme acts of game censorship by German censors include demanding an alteration of the game Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix, where the player was put into a parallel universe "killing" metal cyborgs without a hint of blood or gore.

Where do you think the line should be drawn between removing dangerous influences on young people and excessive control over peoples' entertainment?