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The Unfriendly Side of German Game Development 176

Posted by Zonk
from the not-so-good dept.
As hysterical as American media and politicians can get over 'violent' videogames, the folks making games in Germany have it a whole lot worse. Tim Partlett (a developer at Crytek) shared his experience with the Quarter to Three forums, describing what it's like to be raided for making a videogame. He describes what it's like to be hated for your job, and laments the attitude of the nation towards his chosen line of work. From the article: "At the time of the (2002 Erfurt school) shooting, we were already in development of Far Cry ... We were just across the state border from Erfurt in northern Bavaria. Tensions in the region were high ... In 2004 the Bavarian authorities sent in the state troopers... When the small tech team appeared to inspect our computers, they were accompanied by over one hundred flak-jacketed riot police, all armed with Heckler and Koch sub-machine guns. It was a total overreaction... They arrived first thing in the morning, and kicked down our doors. They even raided the nearby private residences ... I was caught just outside the office ... We were all shepherded into our Mo-Cap room, and there we were forced to remain until questioned, prevented from leaving by dozens of armed guards."
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The Unfriendly Side of German Game Development

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  • Interesting (Score:5, Funny)

    by badenglishihave (944178) on Friday December 15, 2006 @05:06PM (#17262140) Homepage
    This explains why those villains in Far Cry all look like Germans.
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by inviolet (797804) <slashdot.ideasmatter@org> on Friday December 15, 2006 @05:07PM (#17262156) Journal
    Für die Kinder, Kamerad!
  • So the question is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday December 15, 2006 @05:09PM (#17262184) Homepage Journal
    When will the game developers leave Germany? And what will the next industry chased out of that poor deluded country be? Germany has a complex over the whole Third Reich thing - it's understandable, but let's face it, if you weren't involved or responsible somehow, you need to build a bridge and get over it. Any people could go that way given the right (wrong) circumstances.
    • Iduno. I don't mind people being obsessed with the failures of their forebears if it prevents them from doing similarly fucked up things. Of course, jailing holocaust deniers seems like the wrong lesson learned.

      But maybe if they paid the right kind of attention, they wouldn't truck w/ this militarization of their police force. Of course, ditto for us in the states.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by MuChild (656741)
        That's the f*cked up thing, it's like they're so focused on becoming a social/political utopia that they don't notice the paradox of forcing people to be free and using a miltitarized police force to stop violence.

        It's the same with us. Sigh

    • they want. there are a couple of politicians who scream right now "forbid the shooters" but their screams are part populism and part demand for a bribe.
    • by Lars T. (470328)

      When will the game developers leave Germany? And what will the next industry chased out of that poor deluded country be? Germany has a complex over the whole Third Reich thing - it's understandable, but let's face it, if you weren't involved or responsible somehow, you need to build a bridge and get over it. Any people could go that way given the right (wrong) circumstances.

      This has nothing to do with Nazis, it has to do with kids shooting other kids. We Germans -unlike Americans- just aren't used to that yet.

      • Damn it, Lars, this has nothing to do with kids shooting each other. This is about raiding people for producing a video game.
      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        No offense, but I think your country squandered its moral authority to judge others about 60 years ago. But, if it's any consolation, I think I speak for most of the world in saying that we are very supportive of the idea of Germans never having guns EVER again.

        -Eric

        • by Lars T. (470328)

          No offense, but I think your country squandered its moral authority to judge others about 60 years ago.
          And your country did far before that.
  • Having the bad guys spilling green blood all the time can make even the most harden German developer think he was working on a Star Trek game instead of something more cutting edge.
  • We Germans are not all smiles...
  • Nobody (Score:3, Funny)

    by MoOsEb0y (2177) on Friday December 15, 2006 @05:29PM (#17262434)
    expects a Spanish^H^H^H^H^H^H^HGerman inquisition!
    • this wasn't german, this was bavarian inquisition. bavarians aren't real germans (actually most germans would vote for giving bavaria to austria as a gift but the austrians don't like the idea).
  • by Palshife (60519) on Friday December 15, 2006 @05:31PM (#17262464) Homepage
    And this is how we develop games in Germany, Herr Jones. *punch*
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They were probably worried about those jumping mutants with those fucking arms that seem to reach out forever. I hate those!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In Fascist Germany game plays you
  • Its Bavaria (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Note that this happened in Bavaria, by far the most conservative German state. I like to compare them to Texas, to give americans a better idea ;)

    Bavaria is also the state leading the current initiative to make the laws regarding violent games more stringent, while other states are taking a much more sensible position.
    • Re:Its Bavaria (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BoberFett (127537) on Friday December 15, 2006 @06:04PM (#17262862)
      Which is odd, because Texas is a hotbed of game development. I'd imagine either New York or California are far more likely to ban violent games before Texas. Perhaps conservatism isn't to blame in this case?
      • by justchris (802302)
        What is conservative in America is not the same as what is conservative in Germany. They've been around a lot longer, they have whole lists of different things to conserve we haven't even gotten to yet.
      • by Lars T. (470328)

        Which is odd, because Texas is a hotbed of game development. I'd imagine either New York or California are far more likely to ban violent games before Texas. Perhaps conservatism isn't to blame in this case?
        So how many games showing boobies or worse were produced in Texas? Maybe Texan conservatism is to blame for that? Obviously Texan conservatives want to conserve violence.
    • And ID and most other shooting game companies are based in Texas. What's your fucking POINT?
      • Re:Its Bavaria (Score:5, Interesting)

        by henni16 (586412) on Friday December 15, 2006 @08:39PM (#17264302)
        Conservative means here:
        • "law-and-order" hardliners, secretary of the interior is the biggest police and surveillance state supporter there is
        • "War on drugs", "War on terror", "Zero tolerance", "Glass.Parling.Lot" would really fly in Bavaria
        • the same party has had absolute majority in parliament since Bavaria was founded (hello cronyism and corruption)
        • that party is the most right-wing party in Germany (except for Neo-Nazi parties); actual slogan "To our right there mustn't be room for another party!"
        • "christian values" as in "Think of the children!" and "video games make our children violent"
        • The way to "solve" a social or criminal problem is: real solutions might cost money; instead we'll use more laws, harder punishment, prohibition of every morally bad thing we don't want to see. If the problems aren't visible, they are gone.
          To paraphrase a _leftie_ politican on the video game issue: "They support a ban of violent video games in case a game triggers some whacko kid to finally go out and kill someone. We would like to prevent the kid from becoming whacko in the first place."
        • Example: media reports about school children showing each other pornos and viloent video clips on their cellphones. Bavarian solution for the problem: ban cell phones at school
        • "traditional values": beer, sausage, Lederhosen isn't typical for Germany, it's typical for Bavaria
        • some common things with Texas might be
          • a "the rest of you states suck, we're better; in fact, we're basically independent"-mentality
          • conservative=>dislike of immigrants (Mexican border..)
          • gun nuts - lots of "traditional" hunting and gun clubs; the yearly "shooting fair" is the social highlight in every little town
          • "shoot first, ask questions later"


        What the AC refers to is that many people in Bavaria will think of what happend as a good course of action.
        And that there won't be problems abusing state power for such a useless thing.
        And that the main reason for those actions - including the use of riot police - is getting pictures that show "We aren't like those soft leftie cowards, we're HARD on that issue. Don't mess with Texa..eh.. us! We're taking ACTION, something is done about it, don't worry, we'll keep you and your children save."

        And also: "If we make enough noise about that school shooter playing Counterstrike, everybody will ignore the fact that he was in a gun club and that that was the reason that he was good at shooting and had access to the guns he used in the first place. Everybody shut up about that! Or someone might ask questions about stuff like why we want to further loosen gun control laws or lower the minimum age requirement for childrens to start using firearms!"
        • by Jesus_666 (702802)
          a "the rest of you states suck, we're better; in fact, we're basically independent"-mentality

          Bavaria even has the BP (Bavaria Party), which argues that Bavaria should secede from Germany. I think it's no wonder that the Bavarians and the North Germans think of each other as crackpots.
      • by Cecil (37810)
        Most shooting game companies are based in Texas, eh? To quote South Park,

        "Horrific deplorable violence is okay, as long as people don't say any naughty words!"

        There are various definitions of "conservative", it's not all about the guns.
    • by Shihar (153932)
      Uh, Texas is the hub of the video game industry in the US. Texas is pretty damn socially liberal. I think a better comparison is something more like Alabama.

      The real tragedy is that German federal law doesn't offer up any support to such a blatant violation of free speech. Then again, German concept of 'free speech' is a lot shakier then the American version. World War II really left the poor bastards a little gun shy when it comes to anything that kinda-sorta-might imply violence.
      • by Vellmont (569020)

        Texas is pretty damn socially liberal.

        We ARE talking about the state that wants to make it legal for the blind to hunt, right?

        I'm not sure I'd call Texas "liberal", but maybe it is compared to some of the other southern states. If you're looking for an extremely conservative state, I'd probbably pick Utah.
        • by Shihar (153932)
          People are mangling Republican and conservative, socially liberal and economically liberal, and "liberal" is in "democrats" and liberal is in classical sense of liberalism.

          Letting the blind hunt, while a fucking stupid idea, would be a form of INCREASED social liberty. It would allow one more non-violent behavior (err, providing the blind guy doesn't shoot anyone) to be allowed in society. I am not saying that Texas is the most socially conservative state in the Union by any stretch, but that are nowhere
          • by Vellmont (569020)
            Ok, I can accept that definition of "liberal", (though I'd really call it more libertarian). So how about a Texas law banning gay sex [sodomylaws.org], that was only struck down by the US Supreme Court 4 years ago? Is that liberal by your definition?

            In the context of the United States, Texas was only one of four states that sodomy laws against gays hadn't been struck down by state courts, or repealed by the legislature. There's plenty of states ready to legalize marijuana. Nevada almost passed a referendum to allow its
        • by henni16 (586412)
          I'd probbably pick Utah.

          That's probably closer to Bavaria than Texas due to the religious fundie factor.
          It's not a coincidene that the pope is from Bavaria..
    • I would not say most conservative, more along the lines of being the worst Hicks of western europe. Even for Austrians which are very close to Bavaria in many aspects (But fortunately not in their boneheadedness and idiocy) Bavaria slowly becomes a joke and a part we also are ashamed of. Sorry to say that northern friends but currently you guys are a sick joke, even for us.
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      Bavaria is also the state leading the current initiative to make the laws regarding violent games more stringent, while other states are taking a much more sensible position.

      What's making me ashamed is that my state, Lower Saxony, is also following this blatantly populistic initiative. I would have expected the politicians to be a bit more level-headed up here, but apparently no state is safe from politicians who would suck up to any fad to get a temporary boost in popularity.
  • Oh.. You mean a real sub machine gun!
    "PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR AND STEP AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD!"
    done!

    (I really wanted to put that quote in all caps, then the lameness filter prevented me unless I added more text)

  • by Shihar (153932) on Friday December 15, 2006 @07:27PM (#17263632)
    I swear, there has to be a Godwin's law joke in here somewhere. I mean come on. A fucking German riot squad raiding computer geeks busy making video games. How fascistic could you possibly get?

    The EU has a problem. I know that the EU is all scared from World War II and what not, but they need to get over it. Violently repressing anything that might encourage violence really is not an effective method of keeping the fascist away. Further, this isn't just a problem with one little backward German providence. Many European nations have anti-free speech laws preventing various forms of 'blasphemy', racism, and ideology. This isn't an effective way to confront these forces.

    The silly talk in Germany and the EU about more stringent rules against video games is going to accomplish only one thing; giving the US more German programmers and designers. Didn't Germany learn a lesson about the stupidity of driving perfectly intelligent people to the US during World War II? The Americans will happily take them in, make some product that can't be made in Germany due to fears of this Gestapo bull shit, and make a buck off of it.

    This raid should be a cry for MORE free speech laws to prevent backwards providence from pulling this bullshit, not a cry to clamp down and regulate speech further. Is Germany, with its negative population growth, TRYING to drive out the few remaining young and technically minded people they have left?
    • The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. It's a land where hate speech is just dandy, and inciting violence is protected, by hiding behind the 'free speech' defense. Unless it's demonstrating against the government, which these days gets you cordoned off into 'free speech zones'.

      Germany, and these other countries (which of course you don't name, or can't spell, or just haven't heard of before) all have lower crime rates than the US. Their people are more aware of fascistic behaviour. And

      • by pilkul (667659)

        These hate speech (or 'anti-free speech', doubleplusgood) laws you conflate with fascism aren't the only thing controlling crime, but they don't hurt. And yet you 'conclude' that they're ineffective! Guess I'll just have to take your word for it, right?

        What is the number one point Ahmadinejad made at his Holocaust denier conference? That countries like Germany ban denying the Holocaust, and that as a result it's impossible to objectively examine the facts. Hate-speech rules do nothing but empower racist

      • by Shihar (153932) on Friday December 15, 2006 @09:58PM (#17264880)

        Western European countries with hate speech laws are clearly different than religious theocracies with laws against blasphemy and ideology. These hate speech (or 'anti-free speech', doubleplusgood) laws you conflate with fascism aren't the only thing controlling crime, but they don't hurt. And yet you 'conclude' that they're ineffective! Guess I'll just have to take your word for it, right?
        Anti-hate speech laws don't make hate speeches magically disappear. The idea that you can ban an idea and some how make it disappear is insane. The Soviets tried and failed to do this for a solid 50 years with methods far more brutal and absolute then anything a European nation has tired, and they still had their ideology overthrown.

        The only thing anti-hate speech laws manages to do is make debate illegal and drives any sort of discussion of the topic underground. Instead of being able to confront the racism head and exposing it is a crock of shit in the open, you pave the way for those ideas to go underground where they can't be confronted out in the open. People who are disposed to believe such racist non-sense are not magically converted to good citizens when they see police breaking down doors and throwing people in jail. When a government needs to use violence to suppress an idea, people are going to question what exactly it is about that idea that the government fears so much.

        The holocaust deniers are a perfect example of this foolishness. Making it illegal to deny the holocaust just means that these ass holes can't stand up in public and take their licks. I would rather see this shit get sorted out in the open where people can respond, rather then have little underground groups that stew in their hate (rightfully) convinced that the government is out to get them.

        Further, you keep trying to argue that you can some how have "free speech" while at the same time making "hate speech" illegal. Free speech means free speech. You are damn right that anti-hate speech laws are anti-free speech laws. If you can't express an idea, no matter how repugnant, then it isn't free speech. What exactly do you think the point of free speech is in the first place? To protect the common consensus as to what is and is not acceptable to talk about? The point of free speech is to protect all speech, even the speech that the vast majority loathes.

        If you need a reason as to why free speech should be protected in its entirety, simply RTFA. A form of speech that is considered socially deviant by the majority of Germans just had a a few dozen police is riot gear get raided. If the majority consider this form of speech to be socially unacceptable. Does that mean that the raid was a-okay? This isn't an abstract slippery slope argument. Fucking police stormed a video game companies office.

        The US might have a stupidly high incarceration rate due to our stupid prohibition laws, but you can bet your ass that we don't have police in SWAT gear kicking in the doors of video game companies for making games that might be considered too violent by the moral majority. Free speech needs uncompromising protection for this very reason.
      • by khallow (566160)

        Clearly, you've lost your mind. You're mixing blasphemy, RACISM, and ideology?!?! Western European countries with hate speech laws are clearly different than religious theocracies with laws against blasphemy and ideology. These hate speech (or 'anti-free speech', doubleplusgood) laws you conflate with fascism aren't the only thing controlling crime, but they don't hurt. And yet you 'conclude' that they're ineffective! Guess I'll just have to take your word for it, right?

        There's no evidence that hate spe

      • The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. It's a land where hate speech is just dandy, and inciting violence is protected, by hiding behind the 'free speech' defense. Unless it's demonstrating against the government, which these days gets you cordoned off into 'free speech zones'.

        Germany, and these other countries (which of course you don't name, or can't spell, or just haven't heard of before) all have lower crime rates than the US. Their people are more aware of fascistic behaviour.

        Are you s

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      How fascistic could you possibly get?

      You're overlooking something. Crytek wasn't raided because someone found it funny. Crytek was raided because video games are this generation's Heavy Metal/television/Rock'n'Roll - ie. the universal scapegoat for every social ailment. Someone ran amok and it was found that, among other things like being depressive, this person played video games. The media immediately concluded that Counterstrike has turned a normal teenager into a killing machine and for one or two wee
  • As any old CSer will tell you, HK MP5, weapon of choice.
  • by zerojoker (812874) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @01:26AM (#17266230)
    http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/46094 [heise.de] (it's german, you might want to put that into the google translator). It basically says that the police raided Crytek because the Business Software Alliance (BSA) got several evidence that Crytek was using unlicensed software

    Now I'm not sure what came out of this, but I think if the police raids a whole company it's quite standard procedure to come up with some armed guys.
    • by Knos (30446)
      I'm sorry.. Standard procedure? Why would you need to be armed to coerce a company to disclose anything when you have the law on your side? Why aren't trenchcoat-and-trilby wearing investigators sufficient?
    • by mabinogi (74033) on Saturday December 16, 2006 @02:38AM (#17266564) Homepage
      He mentions exactly that. Did you actually read the article?

      from the eight paragraph:

      In 2004 the Bavarian authorities sent in the state troopers. Ostensibly it was as a response to a claim made by a former employee that we had illegal software installed on our machines.
    • by Petrushka (815171)
      Sigh ... thank you. I wasted a lot of time scanning through the comments in this discussion before finding yours, the only relevant and informative one of the whole sorry lot. Move along folks, nothing to see here ... FWIW, the article points out that this is not the first time this year that CryTek has been investigated for this.

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