Germany and Doom: The beginning of a beautiful friendship?


Guest posting by Dr. Andreas Lober

For nearly two decades, "Doom" has been considered evil in Germany: The game was "banned" or, more precisely, "indexed" in Europe's biggest market for PC games. In 1993, the Bundesprüfstelle - a governmental body - found the game was adult content, i.e. harmful to minors. In 1994, "Doom II" suffered the same fate. At the time, the Bundesprüfstelle suspected that the games appealed mainly to sadists.

As of August 31, 2011, both games have been removed from the "index". The Bundesprüfstelle followed ZeniMax' arguments and held that by today's standards, "Doom" and the German version of "Doom II" are no longer harmful to minors. The games were rated "16+" the same day by USK, the German Age Rating Authority. Already several weeks earlier, the Bundesprüfstelle held that "Gears of War 3" was not adult content, i.e. not to be indexed. The original international version of "Doom II" remains on the "index", as it contains levels from another "indexed" game.

The case is a novelty: While the Bundesprüfstelle has removed several other media from the "index" in a similar procedure, games so far had been removed generally only after the 25 years period of the initial decision had elapsed, and "Doom" was probably the most prominent of all games "indexed" in Germany. The economic interest of the original "Doom" game may be limited today, but the brand remains on of the most valuable games brands of all time. When the game was "indexed", each mentioning of the name in Germany was close to being a criminal offense: In fact, advertising or promoting an "indexed" game in Germany is criminal, and there is no clear line between using a game's name and promoting it.

This was a guest posting by Dr. Andreas Lober who represented ZeniMax before the Bundesprüfstelle. This article expresses his personal views only, and not necessarily ZeniMax's views.

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