Doom 2: Germany lifts restrictions on landmark shooter game

Doom 2: Germany has eased restrictions on the 1993 game Doom and it's 1994 sequel, Doom 2. Why did it take so long?

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    A screenshot from the video game Doom 2. Germany has lifted its restriction on the 1994 first-person shooter along with the 1993 game Doom.
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After 17 years, the first-person-shooter games "Doom" and "Doom 2" are no longer verboten in Germany.

Bethesda Softworks, the owner of the company that produced the games in 1993, successfully appealed to the country's Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons to have the restriction lifted, which it did on Wednesday.

Since 1994, the two games have been listed on the department's official index, meaning that it could not be sold to minors, displayed or advertised where it could be seen by minors, or sold by mail. These restrictions placed the games in the same legal category as pornography.

Doom puts the player in the role of a space marine stationed on Mars's moon, Phobos, when an experiment gone awry inadvertently opens up a gateway to the underworld. The character then must kill thousands of demonic creatures as he travels through various worlds.

The game is widely regarded by gamers as a breakthrough in the first-person-shooter genre of video games, in which the player experiences shooting at other characters through the eyes of the protagonist. Such games have been criticized by some as "murder simulators," although no definitive link has yet been found between first-person shooters and real-life violence.

According to the BBC, Bethesda Softworks successfully argued that the ban be lifted by pointing out that the primitive graphics of Doom and its sequel have long since been surpassed by those of modern games. The German government agreed, saying those who play Doom today will do so "mainly of historical interest" and are far less likely to be children. As of Wednesday, the games can be sold to anyone over the age of 16.

Doom and Doom 2 are by no means the only video games to have been banned in Germany. The game Wolfenstein 3D, which was released in 1992 and is widely regarded as the grandfather of first-person shooters, was outlawed in 1994 because it depicted swastikas, used the anthem of the Nazi party, and had the protagonist battle a robot Hitler at the end.

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