In the aftermath of a recent school shooting in Germany, the regional governments of Bavaria and Lower Saxony have proposed new legislation that could punish those who make, distribute, or even play video games featuring "cruel violence on humans or human-looking characters" with a fine and up to a year in prison. The newly drafted bill is scheduled to go before the upper house of parliament next year.
The 18-year old shooter, who according to an online report from MSNBC was an avid player of the popular first-person shooter Counter Strike, attacked the Scholl secondary school on November 20 in the western German town of Emsdetten, and wounded as many as 37 people before killing himself.
However, some within the German competitive video game arena see this latest move as a knee jerk overreaction to the incident, with Frank Sliwka, the head of the Deutsche E-Sport Bund, a German online gaming organization, commenting, "We have among the most drastic censorship rules for games," adding, "Now we are being labeled as a breeding ground for unstable, dysfunctional and violent youngsters."
Interestingly, the MSNBC report also highlights the fact that Sony could also find itself on the receiving end of this new legislation, should it pass, with its PlayStation 3 console set to debut in the region in March 2007. Activision's Call of Duty 3 and Sony's Insomniac developed Resistance: Fall of Man continue to be the biggest selling titles for the platform, and both would be subject to the law's stringent violent game penalty.
Along with Australia, Germany has one of the strictest controls on video games content, with a long history of banning or forcing alterations in games. Previously titles banned in their original form in Germany include Doom 1 and 2, as well as Manhunt and Command & Conquer. More recently, the Xbox 360 releases Dead Rising and Gears of War were both denied an age rating in Germany as well, thus making it possible for the games to be deemed illegal to sell by the German government.