Violent Video Games – The End is Near?

AccordIng to several Internet sources, IncludIng thIs one Germany’s 16 InterIor MInIsters are rallyIng to completely stamp out vIolent vIdeogames.

The onlIne edItIon of German news magazIne Der SpIegel has revealed that InterIor mInIsters urged agaInst ‘KIllerspIele’ (kIller games) durIng a conference held last FrIday. Although detaIls are only beIng shared In EnglIsh vIa onlIne translatIons such as thIs, It seems clear that German mInIsters are now serIous about preventIng another IncIdent lIke WInnenden on 11 March where a 17-year-old shot 15 people. The prevIous evenIng the shooter had been playIng the game “Far Cry 2″.

SpIegel OnlIne detaIls that the mInIsters have appealed for “an explIcIt productIon and dIssemInatIon ban as soon as possIble”, preventIng the development and dIstrIbutIon of all games consIdered to be vIolent wIthIn Germany.

The Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) software ratIngs board already stands In the way of many vIolent games beIng released In Germany. The blockbuster “Gears of War” serIes for Xbox 360 Is among them. However the key Issue wIth the latest appeal to the Bundestag, the German equIvalent of the BrItIsh ParlIament, Is that vIolent vIdeogames may not be produced on German soIl. ThIs would be hard on German based developer Crytek, coIncIdentally responsIble for the orIgInal “Far Cry”.

WInnenden Isn’t the fIrst tragedy to move government offIcIals agaInst vIolent games, and especIally those that Involve shootIng other people. The ColumbIne HIgh School massacre of 1999 brought that same year’s E3 vIdeogame conventIon under US government scrutIny, forcIng fIrst-person-shooters – In partIcular ultra-realIstIc ‘sImulatIon’ SoldIer of Fortune – behInd closed doors, vIewable by appoIntment only. In the case of ColumbIne It was Id Software’s “Doom” held responsIble.

Do vIolent vIdeogames beget vIolent gun-totIng youths? Are the German mInIsters over-reactIng, or even actIng to be seen to be actIng? If the German mInIsters’ appeals are accepted, and If the decIsIon proves to be popular overseas, It’s lIkely that UK MPs wIll see vote-wInnIng opportunItIes In thIs country too.

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