Definitely no offense taken!
I did not check for each game on your list, but I suppose you are correct to assume that these games can not be promoted or sold by German retailers (they can be imported rather easily though
Still, the index of these games is a very different thing than what would have happened to another LucasArts Indy game. Those games you mention were taken off the market because of excessive graphic violence, and most likely, because “their sole purpose is to kill human beings”, a phrase used rather often in the language of the BpjM
. This authority, as I understand it, is there to protect our youth, but may not even act until another independent organization concerned with the youth has formally requested that the BpjM investigate a certain game/movie. I definitly don’t like the way it is done, and we’re in a constant battle of the political parties to re-investigate these laws for better or worse, but the "capital of censorship" is elsewhere nonetheless. If I recall correctly, it was only weeks ago that you’ve written a harsh letter of complaint to your own authorities about the censorship of a certain violent movie. Same thing here.
Fate of Atlantis 2 would have been treated completely different. Seriously, adventure games don’t get censored in Germany!! However, it is very true that some symbols would be off-limits, precisely those you have linked to. In the past, that has only meant that these symbols had to be removed/replaced for the German edition, and the game could be sold in Germany without problems. It's the public display of these symbols that is the key issue, which is expressly forbidden in Germany for good reason. I don't particularly understand the spirit of these laws when it comes to fictional content where National Socialism and its symbols are unmistakably placed in a negative context, but there are worse issues to worry about.
To put the whole thing in a nutshell: If I wanted to make a game in Germany, I would not feel my personal storytelling to be restricted in any way, especially
when the topic/setting is National Socialism. I would not include that excessive violence, though.
I’m rambling, but I can’t help it.
On a general censorship note – sorry, but "Capital of Censorship" sounds very general to me – the post-WW2 laws in Germany have taken great pains to ensure a seriously light level of censorship, as compared to so many other countries. These walls are crumbling, no doubt, but they do so in every country with a certain terrorist threat or incidental killing sprees.
The freedom of the press is very intact, though, and seems to slightly exceed the freedom in the US or UK (according to these ratings
). In fact, the authorities are mortally afraid to censor the press in any way so tabloids like the "Bild" have no problems to continually and very willfully transgress the press codex. There is a pseudo-authority called the "Presserat" (press council) which does nothing but raise its index finger once in a while with no judicial power at all. I’m not sure wether I should deplore this. After all, the "Bild" loves to ruin lives, incite people, blackmail celebrities and politicians into cooperation and just plain exercise power, and there’s not much in German law that could stop these guys. So much for censorship.