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The year in video game censorship

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“Censorship” is an overused, if not misused, word in popular culture. But for lack of a better term, yes, it describes changes made to games published in different regions, whether to comport with social mores in the area where the game is sold, or even to comply with a law. This video from YouTube’s Censored Gaming recaps the year in regional reconstructions.

Germany is the video game market most notorious for self-editing. Nazis are iconic bad guys but any of their imagery is verboten there. Wolfenstein 2 had to make some remarkably bowdlerized adjustments to its cut scenes to comply with German law. The game still lived and everyone was still entertained.

The majority of the other changes came from Japan, in the form of toning down costuming for the West, or toning down violence in the East. The tendencies of both regions go back decades.

If nothing else, the video demonstrates that popular culture is still not some globally accepted convention. It still must conform to local norms. Yet the changes are significant because they highlight what is most bothering that nation where the product is sold, more than the inclusion of the original material ever could.

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