Recommend
1 
 Thumb up
 Hide
17 Posts

Skies Above the Reich» Forums » General

Subject: Cover art and EU laws rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
brian Denison
msg tools
Are you going to have a separate box shipped to Europe? that BF109 has a swastika on its tail, and I think EU laws don't allow that, at least in Germany.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sven Weiler
Germany
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
fostercaldaroni wrote:
Are you going to have a separate box shipped to Europe? that BF109 has a swastika on its tail, and I think EU laws don't allow that, at least in Germany.


The German state, not the EU, bans the use of symbols used by organizations that are deemed violating the constitution, in this case the Nazi party (§ 86a German Penal Code). This would only affect direct imports into Germany which are handled by German customs.

The enforcement of the law itself, probably due to uncertainties regarding the exception clauses, appears rather sporadic (Amazon sells "Fortune and Glory" while my FLGs refused to order it fearing a visit by a state attorney).
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matthias Jahr
Germany
Uelsby
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Agreeing with Sven, there is no EU wide law and Germany is a bit of a gray area.

Normally showing the symbol is forbidden, but there are exceptions. It is allowed in artistic and historical context as long as it not used to advocate Nazism.

In case of the cover of SAtR I don't see any problems really.

A similiar discussion took place with Black Orchestra which has a fair bit of Nazi symbolism and in the end was sold quite widely in Germany. They even send directly to Germany in their second kickstarter, after disallowing that in the first.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Aasted
United States
flag msg tools
designer
Yes, I spend Geek Gold on useless things like this.
badge
Gloria: [to Robot] I'm just scared I'll come home one day and find you screwing a toaster.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the questions and concern. When making of the components for the game the question of what symbols were allowed for export did come up. It was deemed that anything that could cause an issue was just simply left off. Since the cover of the box was done by someone else, which I think is a great cover by the way, I never thought to give it a look. Let’s hope that whomever processes it at customs feels the same way!

Mark~
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Pressler
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Sven and Mathias, thanks for clearing up this Swastika issue from an accurate German viewpoint. For too long far too many games companies have left off the swastika ahistorically from counters, maps, box art, etc. Putting the German baltic cross on the German flag in place of the Swastika never looked right to me. It appears from what you are saying, that most of this has been largely unnecessary.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matthias Jahr
Germany
Uelsby
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lothar der Spieler wrote:
Sven and Mathias, thanks for clearing up this Swastika issue from an accurate German viewpoint. For too long far too many games companies have left off the swastika ahistorically from counters, maps, box art, etc. Putting the German baltic cross on the German flag in place of the Swastika never looked right to me. It appears from what you are saying, that most of this has been largely unnecessary.


First let me say that I am in no way qualified or trained in law, anything I say is just from observation, so take it with a grain of salt.

I think in most countries of Europe it won't be a problem to use the swastika on the game components, but it is -understandable- a really sensitive matter in Germany.

The law is worded quite wide, and is open to interpretation, so I think wargame companies are well advised to minimize the use of those symbols in their games if they want to sell to Germany. On the other hand a game isn't banned just because there is one swastika. It really depends on context.

I mentioned Black Orchestra above. I think such a game can get away with much more because the player is playing against the Nazis and activly trying to take them out. In a game where Nazi Germany is a player side, or like Skies above the Reich, where it's the only side, the extensive use of such symbolism would be much more likely conflict with the law.

Like I said it's a huge gray area and to be on the safe side might not be such a bad idea.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sven Weiler
Germany
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lothar der Spieler wrote:
Sven and Mathias, thanks for clearing up this Swastika issue from an accurate German viewpoint. For too long far too many games companies have left off the swastika ahistorically from counters, maps, box art, etc. Putting the German baltic cross on the German flag in place of the Swastika never looked right to me. It appears from what you are saying, that most of this has been largely unnecessary.


I'd agree with Matthias that there is a substantial advantage to "playing it safe" here.

The only higher court rulings that I remember (at least featuring a similar topic) concern plastic model kits. The rulings were clear: No exception clauses apply. Now would this case be handled differently? Maybe.

However given that some lower tier courts even ruled that a crossed out swastika with an Anti-Nazi label constitutes a violation of § 86a StGB I wouldn't count on it (Though this verdict was corrected by a higher tier court later).

The exception clauses of §§ 86a III, 86 III StGB are very much open to interpretation. Wargames are mainly depicting combat actions. They are not necessarily putting the events into a historical context. Hence an educational value could only be applied in a few cases. The result would be a case by case decision requiring substantial financial investments by the shops/importers.

Given that even the video game industry hasn't taken a shot at this yet I presume that their legal teams still consider the chances of a positive ruling unfavorable.

So in conclusion... following the "don't poke the sleeping Lion" stratagem might be a good idea here.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Pressler
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
weteor wrote:
Like I said it's a huge gray area and to be on the safe side might not be such a bad idea.


I think, therefore, that it is best for game companies not to sell games dealing with WWII to Germany, since the rest of Europe, as stated above by Sven and Mattias, wouldn't have a problem using the swastika on game components. Then, as Mark Aasted stated above, designers would not have to leave anything off game components that could cause an issue.
Apparently, its mainly Germany that has a problem with the swastika used in a game. Or, as another ides, maybe, German customers could just get a separate printing expunged of Swastika or any other prohibited symbol (the list in Germany is very long).

I have great compassion and sympathy for Germany. I read a monthly newspaper from Germany (in German) that I receive from there almost every day. But why can't I enjoy what my First Amendment rights afford me, just because a country in Europe has very questionable free speech laws? Hopefully soon the Germans will work out their political situation.

BTW, having ahistorical game components only cheapens the game no matter how well designed.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sven Weiler
Germany
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lothar der Spieler wrote:
I think, therefore, that it is best for game companies not to sell games dealing with WWII to Germany, since the rest of Europe, as stated above by Sven and Mattias, wouldn't have a problem using the swastika on game components. Then, as Mark Aasted stated above, designers would not have to leave anything off game components that could cause an issue.
Apparently, its mainly Germany that has a problem with the swastika used in a game. Or, as another ides, maybe, German customers could just get a separate printing expunged of Swastika or any other prohibited symbol (the list in Germany is very long).


If the wargaming industry weren't a niche of a niche hobby offering separate copies would be ideal. Realistically there isn't gonna be a separate German print.

So what it comes down to is rather simple:
Do you want access to the German market?
Do you think that some customers might not purchase your product if it features such symbology?

This issue isn't new and I think the various wargaming publishers have already concluded that using these symbols would decrease their sales significantly.

I'd also argue that, regarding wargame sales, the German market is relatively insignificant. So this choice was probably not based solely on German law but on a general sentiment that the symbols would be a deterrent for other costumers.

I don't think that German law is the main culprit here.

Lothar der Spieler wrote:
BTW, having ahistorical game components only cheapens the game no matter how well designed.


Depends. I'm not concerned about NATO iconography for my German WW2 units or Roman Legions... but it's definitely ahistorical.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matthias Jahr
Germany
Uelsby
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lothar der Spieler wrote:
I think, therefore, that it is best for game companies not to sell games dealing with WWII to Germany, since the rest of Europe, as stated above by Sven and Mattias, wouldn't have a problem using the swastika on game components. Then, as Mark Aasted stated above, designers would not have to leave anything off game components that could cause an issue.
Apparently, its mainly Germany that has a problem with the swastika used in a game. Or, as another ides, maybe, German customers could just get a separate printing expunged of Swastika or any other prohibited symbol (the list in Germany is very long).

Since almost all wargame companies avoid using those Symbols there seems to be a reason, and I doubt the German wargame market is big enough on its own to be the only one to avoid those symbols.

Like I mentioned above it is mostly a German thing, but there are quite a few other countries in Europe, which might have similar issues with those symbols, even though not a profund as Germany.

Videogames mostly opt for removing the symbols. But that's no option for boardgames since the print runs of most games are really small, printing
different version is certainly not an option.

Lothar der Spieler wrote:
I have great compassion and sympathy for Germany. I read a monthly newspaper from Germany (in German) that I receive from there almost every day. But why can't I enjoy what my First Amendment rights afford me, just because a country in Europe has very questionable free speech laws? Hopefully soon the Germans will work out their political situation.


The same thing can be said about many things and countries, can't it? It's mostly a cultural thing. It's seldom forced upon, but a decision on how and where to do business.

Quote:
BTW, having ahistorical game components only cheapens the game no matter how well designed.

I can understand that. On the other and there are quite a few things that are ahistorical to begin with, so I don't really mind.

*edit*: could have just written: "I agree with Sven"
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Pressler
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Xenos141 wrote:

This issue isn't new and I think the various wargaming publishers have already concluded that using these symbols would decrease their sales significantly.

I'd also argue that, regarding wargame sales, the German market is relatively insignificant. So this choice was probably not based solely on German law but on a general sentiment that the symbols would be a deterrent for other costumers.


I would say that game companies fearing losing a lot of sales because of the normal usage of the common German symbol of WWII, the Swastika, in their games or fearing they might, is pure "Quatsch". Look at Avalon Hill! It sold gobs of WWII games up til its final day in 1998 (or 1999) with many of its WWII games having Swastika artwork on counters, box tops, etc. Look at the Russian Campaign, for example. Probably about every war gamer 35 and older grew up pushing around pieces with the Swastika on them opposing often the Hammer and Sickle across the table. Probably a large majority of GMT's customer base falls into this category. Do any of them now require some kind of treatment because of early, extensive exposure to Nazi Swastika embellished game pieces?? I dare say not!

Plus, any potential customer who would possibly purchase a WWII game with Germany involved, would probably expect to see the Swastika used somehow, because...NEWSFLASH!!...the Swastika was an official symbol for Germany at the time! If the person were the sort who would not care to ever see a Swastika, most likely he would also not care to play such a WWII game. JUST MAKES SENSE.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sven Weiler
Germany
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lothar der Spieler wrote:

Look at Avalon Hill! It sold gobs of WWII games up til its final day in 1998 (or 1999) with many of its WWII games having Swastika artwork on counters, box tops, etc.


And now they make eurogames.

Citing a company that was forced to change it's product base for a possibly massive, existing customer base appears to me as a rather weak argument.

Lothar der Spieler wrote:
If the person were the sort who would not care to ever see a Swastika, most likely he would also not care to play such a WWII game. JUST MAKES SENSE.


Except it doesn't. Again, the German market for wargames is minimal. Citing it as the sole reason for not using swastikas is simply absurd.

All major wargame publishers have banned the swastika from their products. Since they certainly know their costumer base better than eiter of us I presume that this change was an informed business decision by all of them that is not solely related to the tiny German market.

Sure, your anecdotal evidence, based on your personal experience ("Nobody who cares about WW2 games would not want to see it"), says otherwise. My anecdotal evidence, based on my personal experience, is a direct contradiction to this.

So at least 1 person exists that likes WW2 games but isn't into seeing swastikas all over the place. whistle

For me the facts are rather straight forward:
1. The German market is insignificant
2. Companies want to turn a profit
= If a greater costumer base could be gained by using swastikas... they would do it.

So... unless a publisher opens op about their thought process here we can only agree to disagree.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Harry Bosch
Netherlands
Rotterdam
ZH
flag msg tools
badge
In honour of the brave crew of Hr.Ms. Java 27-02-1942 † Battle of the Java Sea
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
While other EU countries don’t have swastika laws I can confirm that openly showing swastika’s is considered extremly bad taste. Even on cover art for plastic scale models swastika’s still get covered up by stickers or black marker (doesnt matter if its the Finnish airforce roundle or a Nazi flag).

I believe that the use of this symbol will remain controversial as long as we have generations that lived under Nazi occupation (or even children that grew up after the war with parents that where emotionally or physically damaged during that time). Maybe the problem will die down when it’s 100 years after the fact like WW1 but even then. Consider a game about rooting out the KKK with all the symbols and imagery associated with that on the box. Would something like that get shelf space in a hobby store?

I also saw some EU news reports about the Confederate Flag getting more controversial and being banned on some occasions in the US. Like the Swastika that flag is a historic symbol but these symbols are associated with oppression and regimes that did terrible things to minority’s. Maybe it’s a sign of the times that we have to be more considerate of the feelings other people have. Unlike us they don’t just see the historical value of being accurate.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Pressler
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Xenos141 wrote:

And now they make eurogames.

Citing a company that was forced to change it's product base for a possibly massive, existing customer base appears to me as a rather weak argument.


Actually, Avalon Hill was bough out by Hasbro. The only thing that remained of Avalon Hill was the name. Even the logo had been changed. The "Avalon Hill" you are referring to is totally different, so the point is irrelevant.

Xenos141 wrote:
All major wargame publishers have banned the swastika from their products. Since they certainly know their costumer base better than eiter of us I presume that this change was an informed business decision by all of them that is not solely related to the tiny German market.


I would say that wargame companies probably quit printing the swastika in their wargames (for the most part, but probably not 100%) for possibly two reasons:

1. They wanted to sell more games to Europe, including Germany, and heard that there were so types of EU restrictions on the symbol and pretty much just blanket-like decided to cut out the swastika without getting into deeper details with individual countries and specific laws. With their low budgets, I can bet you that they didn't conduct any market surveys either in the US or in Europe to see what people thought about the reasonable usage of the swastika in historical games. And while they were at it, why would they have not also checked on individuals' feelings about the Hammer and Sickle? I bet some Europeans would be offended by it, but it appears to be "OK". Can you explain that? But I'll tell you for sure that I don't recall ever any of the wargame companies asking me or any other customer about our opinions on the swastika. Its appeared, at least through the 90's, that is wasn't an issue.

2. The companies possibly conformed to the overall trend towards political correctness and leftist politics that was taking on in the 90's. I would say that these points account for model companies cutting out swastika decals from German aircraft kits from WWII as well. Hyper-reactive leftist European governments were trying to eliminate all nationalist symbols without giving the peoples (and gamers and modelers) a say in the matter.

Xenos141 wrote:
So at least 1 person exists that likes WW2 games but isn't into seeing swastikas all over the place.
so... unless a publisher opens op about their thought process here we can only agree to disagree.


I don't think swastikas in games were "all over the place", just in appropriate places. But I'm not surprised at your viewpoints considering the strict censorship laws on the books in Germany. I heard of an American who was honeymooning in Germany. While swimming at a hotel pool the swastika tattoo on his back was seen and reported. A SWAT team arrived and took him directly to the airport! I hope you enjoy your games and yes, we can agree to disagree.cool



1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Pressler
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
boshar wrote:


I also saw some EU news reports about the Confederate Flag getting more controversial and being banned on some occasions in the US. Like the Swastika that flag is a historic symbol but these symbols are associated with oppression and regimes that did terrible things to minority’s. Maybe it’s a sign of the times that we have to be more considerate of the feelings other people have. Unlike us they don’t just see the historical value of being accurate.


The Confederate flag is not being banned in the US. Mainly, leftist mayors and local politicians are taking it upon themselves to bring down Confederate flags that were flying on city property. The don't have the power to "ban" the Confederate flag.

And while we are talking about symbols under which terrible things were ostensibly done to people, why does it look like the Hammer and Sickle has slipped through? Did not a lot of Eastern Europeans suffer under it? It appears to have wide usage in wargames. Just some food for thought.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sven Weiler
Germany
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lothar der Spieler wrote:
And while they were at it, why would they have not also checked on individuals' feelings about the Hammer and Sickle? I bet some Europeans would be offended by it, but it appears to be "OK". Can you explain that?


In my opinion the Hammer and Sickle is a relatively generic symbol and doesn't represent a single historical entity but a multitude of governments and political parties all over the globe. It lacks the clear unifying symbolism of the swastika. Hence the latter creates a more focused emotion in people's minds.

Lothar der Spieler wrote:

But I'll tell you for sure that I don't recall ever any of the wargame companies asking me or any other customer about our opinions on the swastika. Its appeared, at least through the 90's, that is wasn't an issue.


I'm not necessarily taking about costumers here. Most European stores would straight out refuse to sell games with swastikas on them. Personally I guess that the same would be true for many American stores since you'd scare away your non-wargaming costumers. But again, we certainly won't agree here and without any store owner or publisher giving us insight there is little point in continuing. As you said, let's agree to disagree.

Lothar der Spieler wrote:

2. The companies possibly conformed to the overall trend towards political correctness and leftist politics that was taking on in the 90's.


This, while I would formulate it differently, pretty much sums up my former conclusion. The difference being that I see the entire society (and with that the costumer base) leaning more towards political correctness while you assume that it's merely the "Hyper-reactive leftist European governments" that are following this trend and not the population itself.

Given that these governments were elected in our democratic systems in the first place their opinions will, in my humble opinion, reflect the general consensus of the majority of the population.

Lothar der Spieler wrote:
While swimming at a hotel pool the swastika tattoo on his back was seen and reported. A SWAT team arrived and took him directly to the airport!


Yeah, I'm not in the least surprised by this.

I guess running around with an ISIS tattoo in the US would grant you a similar welcome, wouldn't it?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jorge ML
Spain
Madrid
MADRID
flag msg tools
mbmb
It seems mixing games and politics is a risky business
Let me say that serious wargamers are not fanatical people, and -now I speak in 1st person- I really appreciate games conveying actual -not fake- pictures and symbols, as it helps better understand history.

Ignoring these symbols always seemed to me childish (and tend to mislead historical interpretation for young people studying it). I perfectly understand different sensitivities, but simply by hiding them a more mysterious atmosphere is generated around them. Substituting actual/political Germany flag during WWII by the tri-color German flag from WWI is really a lack of common sense (see Cataclysm). There are better alternatives, as the traditional Wermatch cross.

I understand some previous statements around the USSR flag: for many it represents oppression and tyranny (Baltic States, Eastern Europe, etc...). After all, the only differentiation was USSR became victors. It didn't make that political state a democracy...

Yes, I think there are big amounts of cynicism and fear to openly discuss this topic. And by the way, yes, I own Hell's Highway and Fortress Europe which happen to be good games, no matter their cover art.
Publishers: please, don't let particulars mixing political considerations into this hobby.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.