Developing or even playing video games in Germany could lead to imprisonment if a bill before the parliament there is passed.
The bill under debate, in the wake of a public outcry in Germany about reported links between gaming and violence, would outlaw the depiction of violent acts committed against human characters. It would apply to any video title played or distributed on German soil. The legislation could effectively put a ban on most first-person shooter, action and real-time strategy titles.
The law would mean many Hollywood franchise titles distributed in Europe's largest vidgame market could be banned as well.
Popular movie franchise titles falling under the violent category, such as the "Star-Trek" series, "The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II;" and "Scarface: The World Is Yours," would likely be outlawed.
Already, Germany has some of the world's strictest laws limiting violence in vidgames. Under present statutes, for example, games cannot be distributed unless depictions of blood or bloodletting are switched off.
Ironically, Germany's gaming scene plays host to major video tournaments where "Counter-Strike," "Quake" or other titles are played in arenas attended by thousands of spectators. But the large screens at what is seen as a major spectator sport in Germany cannot depict bloodletting during "Counter-Strike" or other first-person shooter battles.