Nowadays games seem to be released not only for one country in one specific language but most are multi-language for the whole of Europe. That’s mainly due to the amount of space developers have on the medium (like Blu-ray) and the reduced costs they can produce, if they only need to press one version and do not need to do so many adoptions for each country. Some here in Germany still like to buy games from the UK mainly because the Euro seems to be very strong against the Pound (at least for the time being) and even with the import tax, many games are still much cheaper.
Our Gaming Communities are very similar to the UK (from what I can imagine) we have got everything here from the nerds and hardcore gamers right down to the casual gamer. Gaming here has spread very far over the last years. I make the observation every day on my way to work via bus or train; you can see the PSP’s, DS’s, iPhones and even listen in to talks about the last raid yesterday in World of Warcraft. Gaming is everywhere. I often hear that most German players are known for their love of RPGs and strategy games. We do have a lot of game development especially for those types of genre, like the Gothic games from Piranha Bytes, or the great ANNO series from Sunflowers.
Now let me get back to my statement at the beginning. Yes, this is all true on the surface and for an average Joe, but under the surface we still do have some major issues that the casual player will not likely encounter. Let myself be an example, when I am interested in a game the first two things that I need to know is:
Firstly, I need to know if that game is only in German, or is it really multi-language, because I like to play them in English mainly because I think that’s the way they are meant to be played, if you are able to understand the plot and your English is good enough. German translations seem to lack the quality of the original and most of the humour, or plot details get lost. But nowadays, as mentioned before, non-multilanguage games get rarer and rarer. There are some exceptions with truly good translations and dialogues, the last one was Batman Arkham Asylum, yes Marc Hamill as the Joker is just too sweet, but in German, for those who do not understand English that well, it was remarkably good translation work.
Secondly, I need to check if the game is truly uncut. I want my gaming experience to be as the game was developed / intended and not tainted by changes and cuts for the German market. We still have the issue that many games for an adult audience get censored, or cut in some manner and if that is the case we need to import the games from the UK, US or Austria. There are even a small number of shops that know this and will have those uncut PEGI rated games at launch, for a few extra Euros than the cut German Version.
The censorship mainly concerns games that have a lot of violence in it. First person shooters in particular do not have a good reputation here in Germany. As you might know we had some incidents here where students went amok on their school and people got killed. Sadly over the last couple of years this has happened more than once. Politicians and the general public are shocked, which is completely understandable, and need to have some kind of explanation why and how this could have happened. Unfortunately they easily jump to the conclusion that first person shooters (especially titles like Counterstrike) trained them how to do it, or even lowered their inhibition to kill other people.
As seriously as this topic is, and there have been many talks and discussions about it, if people actually think this to be true and is the main reason for the incidents, then I must say that I often have the feeling that the general public here wants to make it easier on themselves, blaming the killings on a handful of games. I mean, what is the possibility today that any teenage boy would not have any kind of first person shooter on his PC, or console? Someone made a comment describing it by comparison, saying, you could also say ‘eating bread’ makes you a killer, because all Killers have eaten bread in their lives! I know that’s an exaggeration, but there is a lot of truth in it, no one can actually say if there is a connection and many other possible causes get overlooked, or even ignored. But that’s what deeply influences gaming here in Germany. To be honest we still can get those games and the censorship is not as bad as compared to countries like Australia (but that’s another story, one not to be told by me).