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German Past Haunts Gamers' Future

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the doomed-to-repeat-it dept.

Games 134

Wired has up a very thoughtful article examining the current anti-violent gaming trends in Germany, and reflecting on their connection to WWII. Article author Bruce Gain discusses some of the history of post-Nazi Germany, and points out how violent games rile politics in that country by reminding it of its past. Says Gain: "Some German officials link these games to an increase in violence among the young and cite at least one instance where a gamer applied the lessons learned from a first-person shooter to a real-life murderous rampage. Remove the connection, they argue, and you prevent further violence. Germany has a lot of gamers, but the violence found in many of these games is widely criticized there. It has some of the strictest video-game censorship laws in the Western world. For example, laws prohibit the sale of Counter-Strike and other titles with blood-depicting graphics switched on. But for many politicians, the laws don't go far enough."

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134 comments

It's such a shame (5, Insightful)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 7 years ago | (#17939632)

If only Adolf Hitler had not had access to videogames, the history of modern Europe would look entirely different.

Re:It's such a shame (0)

Samalie (1016193) | more than 7 years ago | (#17939710)

30 seconds in and Godwin's law already invoked. :)

Moot point (1)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 7 years ago | (#17939762)

Doesn't count, cause the original story contained the word "nazi" already. It's like trying to invoke Godwin's law in a discussion about skinheads.

Re:Moot point (1)

Nephilium (684559) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940194)

Quick sidenote... skinhead != Nazi...

As an example... look up the SHARPs...

Or as an analogy skinhead:bonehead::hacker:cracker...

Nephilium

Re:Moot point (1)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940482)

True, but if you bring up skins, the first thought (most people in the US have) is probably American History X. Course, then you can go to the UK, and the first thought is football holligans.

Re:It's such a shame (2, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940560)

You can't "invoke" Godwin's law any more than you can "invoke" Moore's law. They aren't formal debate rules. They're just observations. And if the discussion in question is about actual Nazis, it's pretty moot as others have mentioned.

Re:It's such a shame (1)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940838)

Pitiful this was modded as flamebait, since it is anything but. It's called sarcasm mods... look it up.

Nevermind, I'll do it for you [wikipedia.org]

Re:It's such a shame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17941958)

Wir müssen die Juden ausrotten, Videogames hin oder her.

Re:It's such a shame (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943314)

If only Adolf Hitler had not had access to videogames, the history of modern Europe would look entirely different.

You do know that the propaganda machine re-designed children's board games to teach hatred of the Jews? That paramilitary training for boys in the Hitler Youth began at around age ten? If Hitler had the tech he would have used the tech.

Re:It's such a shame (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943378)

You do know that the propaganda machine re-designed children's board games to teach hatred of the Jews? That paramilitary training for boys in the Hitler Youth began at around age ten? If Hitler had the tech he would have used the tech.

So you're arguing that not only video games, but board games, should also be banned? Just so we're clear.

Re:It's such a shame (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943940)

So you're arguing that not only video games, but board games, should also be banned? Just so we're clear.


Maybe boys should be banned.

Re:It's such a shame (1)

mqduck (232646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945252)

You do know that the propaganda machine re-designed children's board games to teach hatred of the Jews? That paramilitary training for boys in the Hitler Youth began at around age ten? If Hitler had the tech he would have used the tech.


He probably would have made a war sim called "Germany's Army".

Cause & Effect Argument (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943908)

"Wait a minute", said a German politician, "Hitler never played video games."
"The OP must have been.... sarcastic. Yes, that's what it's called."
"Hmmmm. So what DID cause Hitler to cause all that trouble?"
"I've got it! Hitler was half Jewish! I saw it on the History Channel!"
"It must have been his Jewish side that caused him to go insane!" reasoned the German.
"We must kill all of the Jews in Germany, to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again!"

History repeats itself...
One totalitarian regime is replaced by another.

In the words of Chris Rock "Whatever happened to CRAZY?!"
And in the words of Kyle Broflovski "What the fuck is wrong with German people?"

Re:It's such a shame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945202)

Chances are he was playing Kriegsspiel [wikipedia.org] .

Draw your own conclusion.

So they finally decided to index CS? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17939730)

That was such a back and forth with that game, I have no idea whether it's currently indexed or not. I do find it quite silly to rile about CS while games like Company of Heroes and Dawn of War get a rating of 16 with all the blood intact.

Re:So they finally decided to index CS? (2, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17939846)

Oh and a slight inaccuracy in the summary: CS isn't banned from sale (only Manhunt, Mortal Kombat and Wolfenstein 3d are), indexing prevents advertising (which includes putting it on a shelf) and sale to minors, theoretically it can still be sold to adults under the counter or in areas minors can't enter (though I don't think anyone but video rental places have such areas, sex shops and gambling dens certainly don't sell indexed games) but most stores don't stock games they can't advertise.

This is different from an 18 rating which prevents sale but still allows putting the games on store shelves and I haven't seen any stores refusing to stock these.

Re:So they finally decided to index CS? (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17941318)

Just curious-- if the law prohibits advertising to the point of even putting the game on the shelf, how does it permit vendors to even indicate that they even have copies of the game for sale? Are displayed but unadorned "we also carry" lists allowed?

Re:So they finally decided to index CS? (2, Informative)

Zatic (790028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945374)

I see you get the problem here. In this case, there is no formal definition of advertising. I remember a few years back, a video gaming magazine ("gamstar") decided to not publish a review of some FPS because they feared an attorney on a save-the-world trip would have all copies seized should the game be banned (which was about to happen that month).

The sad thing is, they said they would have given the game the worst rating and advise against buying it. Still it could have been interpreted as advertising.

As for a video game store, I guess they would have to install a separate area which you would only be allowed to enter if over 18. They could advertise all they want in there. Oh, yes, it's only forbidden to advertise to minors, I should mention.

For the sake of completeness, 3 levels of "rating" in Germany are of interest here:

- Completely banned: Applies only to content that endangers constitution and state (only Manhunt, Wolfenstein 3D and Mortal Combat are banned - don't ask my why). Possession is legal as far as I know, distribution of any form illegal.

- "Indexed": Here's a list:
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verbotene_oder_indizi erte_Medien#In_der_Bundesrepublik_Deutschland_indi zierte_Spiele [wikipedia.org]
Advertising and sale to minors illegal

- USK 18: Sale to minors illegal

Let's blame the Germans... (3, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17939812)

All that green blood in all thosee violent video games. No wonder the Vulcans and Romulans don't like Earth.

Vote them out? (2, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 7 years ago | (#17939836)

I don't know how it works over in Germany, but over here pissing of most of your younger generation seems to be political suicide.

Re:Vote them out? (1)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940428)

Since when?

Look at voting paterns ... Compare the voter turn out of people over the age of 50 to that of people under the age of 35. The fact is that the reason why many of the "violent videogame crusaders" are elected is that people above a certain age believe the world is getting more violent, and that youths are more violent, than they used to be; is this true? No!

Largely because of the influence of mass communication, people now learn about violent acts that occur around the world immediately after (or as) they happen; the images that are beamed into people's homes make people feel a connection to these people who are (essentially) on the other side of the world.

Re:Vote them out? (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945008)

"don't know how it works over in Germany, but over here pissing of most of your younger generation seems to be political suicide."

Says who? People don't vote regularly until they start collecting pensions.

Re:Vote them out? (2, Insightful)

DoktorTomoe (643004) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945282)

You seem to suffer from the missconception that democracy actually works.

Forbidding (we are not talking "ban for minors" here) of CS is the least of Germany's IT problems. Currently, Judical battle is waged on wether to allow a "Bundestrojaner" or "Federal Trojan", a tool that would allow our Federal Police to actively and secretly swap trough the files on every of our computers (and most likely we're supposed not to enforce a strict security concept for our networks, as it'll rise suspicion.

Those were the news that led me to an active encryption of all my harddisks and an cascade of firewall servers. Not because I am child molester, terrorist or criminal, but because I handle data too sensitive for some idiot at the BKA to read.

They say it's against terrorism. Sure. Like the times our bank secrecy was abandoned for the "fight against terrorism" (Nowadays, most the time "Vater Staat" looks at bank accounts, it's for the "fight against tax evasion") Not a time to be proud being a German... Just like the rest of the western world, we again are taking huge steps towards a facist system.

Re:Vote them out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945510)

pissing of most of your younger generation seems to be political suicide

Dream on. Young people are nothing, the government can shit on them and nobody cares. If they are too young they can't vote, if they are old enough they're not enough to matter. Over-40s outnumber them easily. And they won't stay young forever, by the time they're over-30 their political agenda will be dictated by taxes and jobs, not games. Like everybody else.

Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (5, Insightful)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 7 years ago | (#17939880)

They clamp down on violent games by using government censorship? It makes you wonder how much of a lesson they really learned from the failures of national socialism.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (2, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17939984)

The only real censorship is of titles that reward the player for being very brutal and contain very graphic violence, namely Mortal Kombat 1-3 and Manhunt. They also censor games that include Nazi symbols without proper context (though games remove them completely because that context requirement is vague). The rest of the "censored" games can still be sold to adults in adult-only stores or below the counter.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940072)

So you dont care about mortal kombat and in 1938 nobody cared about gypsies and jews.
Is censorship for no good reason alright when it doesn't inconvenience you?

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940240)

Mortal Kombat was allowed to be sold with the fatalities removed. It fell afoul of laws against glorifying or promoting violence. Of course it's just a game but Mein Kampf is just a book. Media can be designed to influence people and while I doubt Mortal Kombat was designed to promote violence the law can't guess intents, it has to be possible to ban propaganda without knowing if the author was serious.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940340)

"...it has to be possible to ban propaganda..." No, it isn't, it shouldn't, and if it is then everything unpopular becomes propaganda.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (2, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940404)

The law is very clear about the kinds of propaganda that get banned, namely anything attempting to incite hate or violence against people or attempting to overthrow the government system as that's a disturbance of the peace. I bet you that no country would tolerate it if you handed out leaflets calling for a Coup d'Etat.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (4, Insightful)

pluther (647209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940686)

The law is very clear about the kinds of propaganda that get banned, namely anything attempting to incite hate or violence against people or attempting to overthrow the government system

That isn't true. None of these games are attempting to incite hate or violence against people, nor are they trying to overthrow any government system.

I bet you that no country would tolerate it if you handed out leaflets calling for a Coup d'Etat.

I bet you it would.

"And, if any man should advocate the dissolution of this union, let him stand free and unmolested as an example of how even the most egregious error of reason can be tolerated in a free society." (Thomas Jefferson)

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17941044)

I bet you that advocating a coup d'etat would get you arrested for treason, terrorism or threats against the president, if you get charged at all and not just thrown into Guantanamo. Your founding fathers said a lot of things but what isn't written down in the law and upheld by the courts is ignored in practice.

That isn't true. None of these games are attempting to incite hate or violence against people, nor are they trying to overthrow any government system.

Of course they aren't but those who do won't be that overt about it either so the law gives rules that would allow hitting subtle propaganda as well.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17943234)

Of course they aren't but those who do won't be that overt about it either so the law gives rules that would allow hitting subtle propaganda as well.

I read that as, "It's okay if some innocent games are censored, becuase occasionally one of them might be subtle propaganda." Is that what you meant? Because you agreed the games aren't doing any of the things they're censored for, but then argued they should be censored anyway.

Maybe it's just me, but I'd prefer the law err on the other side. If a few criminals go free, I'm okay with that as long as innocent people aren't being punished.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945690)

Judging by the media that did get banned those banned as a side-effect are less than 10%. The law is visible to everyone and these games got banned for material that was not necessary for the game to function. In Wolf3D they only had to remove some of the wall textures, in MK they had to remove the fatalities (blood alone only got you an indexing back then and nowadays not even that) and Manhunt would have to replace the detailled killing scenes with something less explicit. Of course in the case of MK and Manhunt that was the whole selling point. Still, the games could have played entirely the same without these unnecessary things. I don't consider it censorship if it's not the message that's objected to but an unnecessarily offensive way of expressing it. We're a civilized society and civilization means consideration for each other and expressing yourself in a way that doesn't offend people unnecessarily.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (1)

sl3xd (111641) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943536)

I bet you that advocating a coup d'etat would get you arrested for treason, terrorism or threats against the president, if you get charged at all and not just thrown into Guantanamo.

Do you live in a cave or anything? Or have you just not seen Leno, Letterman, The Daily Show, any of a score of political pundits, authors, journalists, or celebrities?

Being hated and having people calling for removal from office by force is one of the perks of being President of the United States, and is about as normal as toilet paper-- it's so common nobody gives it a second thought.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (1)

mqduck (232646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945290)

Being hated and having people calling for removal from office by force is one of the perks of being President of the United States, and is about as normal as toilet paper-- it's so common nobody gives it a second thought.


You responded to the statement that read "I bet you that advocating a coup d'etat would get you arrested for treason, terrorism or threats against the president." This doesn't really apply to the actual subject at hand (censorship of games in Germany) but any government WOULD throw you in jail for calling for a coup if it feared that one actually might happen. Free speech (or absolutely anything else) is always banned - if it does less harm than good to do so - once it becomes a threat to the established order.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (1)

Dravik (699631) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944498)

Advocating the dissolution of the union and a Coup d'Etat isn't the same thing. Anybody can, and many fringe groups do, advocate a fundamental change in how the US government works. You can even get a security clearance while in those groups as long as they don't advocate the "violent overthrow of the government". A non-violent overthrow or dissolution is perfectly legal to advocate. Now anyone pushing for a Coup d'Etat will be arrested for incitement to violence.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946144)

I bet you that no country would tolerate it if you handed out leaflets calling for a Coup d'Etat.

I bet you it would.

"And, if any man should advocate the dissolution of this union, let him stand free and unmolested as an example of how even the most egregious error of reason can be tolerated in a free society." (Thomas Jefferson)

It's just as well your country is currently run by this Mr Jefferson. I hate to think what'll happen when he stands down and is replaced by an ultra-conservative religious-fundamentalist Texan gets the presidency....

HAL.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17946600)

But you see Counter-Strike IS strong propaganda for TERRORISM! Fully HALF of all counter-strike players CHOOSE to play as a Terrorist faction - and they go around blowing up important things all over the Counter-Strike world!

But what can we do to save these poor people? Regulations on the game! Players are ONLY allowed to play as counter-terrorists from now on - all terrorists will be played by the computer (bots). Counter-terrorists will now take on such important missions as executing the terrorists leaders on cs_office who cleverly dressed in civilian clothes to throw the CTs off!

I take it from the quote at the bottom your talking about Canada? (Jefferson..sounds Canadian to me) Well sure - OBVIOUSLY - Canadians would let a coup d'etat happen - but Canada doesn't actually need coup d'etats doofus because in Canada if they don't like the leader they just get the chick from the Queens' posse to tell the PM to "GTFO Nucca!" The only way I could see a coup d'etat working in America is because Americans don't speak French and would be all like "WTF is a coup detox!"

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (1)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946984)

I don't know if they [jihadwatch.org] were ever prosecuted. Probably not. Something similiar was done in the UK, and incitements of violence and genocide were plentiful.

What's tolerated and what's not tolerated often depends on what ethnic group or religion you belong to.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (1)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17941518)

Although I 100% agree about videogames, banning something isn't "socialist". Many things are banned for legit reasons, DDT for example. Considering there is no hard science linking video games to violent behaviour (and I do believe a few studies showing an inverse relationship), there is no reason to have a ban. Its all about the science, not opinions people shoot off their hip with their high and mighty wisdom about. And calling the nazi party socialist is similar to calling the neoconservatives republicans.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944210)

The main failure of National Socialism was that it came up against Stalin's Soviet Union, which had more people nearly four times as many tanks, and those. As a side note, the Germans were also too parochial to facilitate a strong, armed, nationalist but anti-Soviet movement in the conquered territories.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (1)

LittleBigLui (304739) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946550)

The main failure of National Socialism was that it is idiotic to incite hatred against, deport and kill a significant part of your population (including some of its brightest heads, greatest artists and whatnot) just because you don't like their noses.

Also, going to war against multiple of your neighbours isn't a very clever thing to do.

Also, trusting national leadership to a bunch of people (with one of them being presented as almost god-like) without being able to remove the from power if they aren't up to the task or abuse their power isn't in the "Running A Country: Best Practices" book.

etc. etc.

Re:Whats worse, fake violence or real censorship? (2, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945508)

If you wish to keep your simple views, stop reading now. Otherwise, this'll be a bit lengthy:

The BPjM [wikipedia.org] is there to enforce the laws on the protection of minors ("Jugendschutz"). Its job is, in short, to check on request of certain bodies whether some game (or movie, etc.) should not be available to children. Yes, violence and sex are the usual criteria.

If it is bad for minors, the BPjM will put the title on an "index". That doesn't mean it's censored. The two main effects of being on the index are that a) you can't sell this game to minors and b) you can't run advertisement for the game (because ads are visible to minors). Yes, critics claim that this is de-facto censorship.

And, contrary to what the article claims, Counterstrike is not on the index. There was a request in 2002 and the BPjM checked the title, and decided to not index it. Since there had been a school-shooting earlier, that decision was widely critized, but the fact remains that this /. article is simply false.

For videos, books and music the BPjM regularily decides against indexing due to artistic merit. All in all, the BPjM used to be one of the hate-figures of my teenage days, yes. But that was when computer games were new and "weird", and they've shaped up to a much more reasonable world-view recently.

Maybe the article authors view should be updated to the 21st century.

How long does this need to go on? (5, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17939888)

Let's face facts, and not to make light the tragedy of the holocaust, but how long does a society need to live with the sins of it's past?

It's a fairly safe bet that today's German gamer isn't the same guy shoveling the bodies of holocaust victims into mass graves.

When can we get over this image of German = Nazi? How long until I don't have to feel bad about being a white American male because of slave owners who have been worm food for over a century?

We need to stop pinning the past of a society on today's citizens.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17940006)

To put it mildly I hope they remember it so that they don't repeat it

Re:How long does this need to go on? (1)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940014)

The Holocaust wasn't really all that long ago, and the dark side of human nature that perpetrated it remains a part of humanity. Besides, an entire region is steeped in Nazi-like propaganda this very day, and Iran is promising to perpetrate another Holocaust while the world remains mostly silent. I don't think the German people should be punished for the evil of their previous generations, but they shouldn't be allowed to forget what happened, either.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940114)

I don't think it was something specific to this society that made the holocaust happen, I think it could have happened in the allied countries, too (in fact some argue that some allies did perform similar atrocities but of course the winner writes the history books). I also don't think the Islam-Nazi comparison is fair, a few extremist leaders train their underlings to extremism and hate but the vast majority of the muslims is more or less harmless. I do think the anti-muslim propaganda (i.e. spreading the belief that muslim = terrorist) could facilitate another holocaust, this time targeting said muslims and I think it's only a matter of time until a politician can gain influence by playing off that fear of "the others".

Re:How long does this need to go on? (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940204)

No sane historian will deny that the allies did things that were as bad as the Germans. We starved a ton of them after the war. Hell we fired bomb civilian targets. In the end it all comes down to intent and motivations.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940812)

Hate, fear, nationalism, and pride resided at the root of both side's intentions and motivations, as true then as it is today. A war of survival on both sides will always be seen as a war of aggression to each one side.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940022)

I lived in germany for a while when I was younger, and it seems to me that they try and ignore what happened as much as possible. The history of the civil rights movement, the civil war, japanese-american internment camps, the indian wars, are all discussed freely over here. When I was in germany I only heard one mention of it, a friend quietly mentioned to me while we were walking down the street, that he has seen photos of a swastika hanging here, as he pointed to a flagpole in a yard. I see a lot of the same thing in what I read coming out of Japan. Theres lots of talk about the american occupation and all the hardships of the japanese people and the 2 bombs that killed a few hundred thousand, but no talk of the occupation of asia which killed millions. The stigma of WWII will stick around as long as people try and ignore what happened and keep on going with things like this censorship.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (3, Interesting)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17941042)

Are you kidding about the US?

Because I've NEVER heard the Japanese-American interment camps discussed publicly, except on a rare occation on some PBS history special (which is then usually touted as liberal propoganda).

The fact is, we are only open to discussion of the civil rights movement and slavery because we were eventually able to bring closure to a lot of it. The civil rights movement was largely successful, and you don't see AS MANY hate crimes as before, and slavery was finally abolished by our own hands (or so we like to claim... most could really care less about slavery, to the north, the civil war was about control of resources, not about slavery). The only reason we can talk about our abuses aginst the indians is because it happened so long ago... and even then, we're a lot more open about slavery than we are about that.

The bottom line is, Germany is ashamed of their Nazi past because someone else had to come in and correct them on it. Abolishing slavery and civil rights were all corrected internally. But as for Japanese-American internment camps, forget it, you almost never hear about that, and every time it's brought up, it's blown off as leftist propoganda.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (1)

BoberFett (127537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942678)

Then maybe you should see about getting a referendum started to raise taxes for your local schools. I learned about Japanese internment camps in high school. There was no sinister cover-up.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945886)

We do get taught about the Nazi time in school but that doesn't mean we randomly strike up casual conversations about the holocaust.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (5, Interesting)

Physician (861339) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943906)

At least most every American has heard of the Japanese-American Internment Camps. Nobody ever speaks of the thousands of Germans who were interred in America during the second world war. In fact, thousands of German-Americans were sent to Germany in exchange for Americans. The German-Americans, being sent there against their will, were looked upon as spies and were suddenly in the middle of a war zone. The United States even asked many Latin American countries to arrest people of German descent and send them to America. The US in turn sent those to Germany in exchange for Americans. You can read all the details here: http://www.foitimes.com/internment/gasummary.htm [foitimes.com]

Re:How long does this need to go on? (1)

Headw1nd (829599) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945138)

Where do you live? Because where I am, the subject of those internment camps come up pretty regularly, usually in discussions about Guantanamo. But maybe that's just the East Coast.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (1)

Fulminata (999320) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945988)

I agree that Japanese-American internment during WWII is not brought up enough, but I can't ever recall it being dismissed as leftist propaganda when it is brought up. Usually it's admitted that it's one of the darkest points of 20th Century American history. Occasionally someone argues that it was justified by the circumstances, but that opinion is very much in the minority today.

Also, I think that discussion of the event is becoming more common, at least it is in forums dedicated to the study of the period. As an amateur student of WWII I see the issue come up quite a bit.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (1)

kinglink (195330) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940076)

I don't think this article is about calling Germans Nazis. In fact the article only uses Nazi in reference to a law.

However the problem is the german goverment is so afraid of violence that they are stopping violent games from entering their country and a point can be made why? It's not like violent games actually created World War 1 or 2, or any other war. There's questions as to whether violent acts are influenced by violent video games. The Violent games are a recent symptom of a large issue, which is whether or not Germany is too afraid of violence and struggling for pacfism, yet they are able to do this because of the fear of another violent uprising.

When you have such an interesting and amazing statistic point such as the nazi regime, along with a goverment trying to pretend that video games or fictious media is what creates violence, it would be criminal not to at least acknowledge it.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940094)

It's not about associating Germans with Nazis or condeming an innocent present for a guilty past, it's about learning for mistakes and trying to prevent them from happening again. They said it best in the article

"My parents, who were born after World War II, received a very strong anti-violence education from their parents, and they handed it over to me," said sociologist Matthias Richter, a professor at Bielefeld University. "So the whole society became aware of what violence is and what violence causes, and this was set out in laws in Germany.

...

Pacifist themes form the core of textbooks read by German school children. A major part of the primary education curriculum focuses on teaching children the hard lessons learned during World War II, particularly regarding the Holocaust."
It's not about WWII in video games, it's about violence in WWII sparking a culture bent on instilling pascifism in children which comes into conflict with violence in video games.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17940154)

i couldnt agree more,

One Eye

Re:How long does this need to go on? (4, Insightful)

MWoody (222806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940178)

Make you a deal: I'll stop mentally drawing a line from "Germans" to "Nazis" when they stop attempting to solve their problems with fascist edicts and restrictions.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (3, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940352)

And I'll stop treating Americans like a bunch of radical Christians when they stop considering sex worse than violence and seriously attempting to teach religious dogmas in science class...

Re:How long does this need to go on? (2, Insightful)

whathappenedtomonday (581634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940236)

You do have a point there, and of course I didn't RTFA, but being German I know one thing for sure: the current plans for anti "killer games" legislation - that's what violent games are called in the public discussion - have nothing whatsoever to do with the fascist / national socialist past of the country. It's the ususal "think of the children!" activism, used by politicians around the world to get a good headline in the press to suppress something they don't like (=understand).

The majority of German internet users have a very sensible opinion about the current discussion and deny the (scientifically unfounded) claims that banning certain content/games/movies/whatever will accomplish anything, while the majority of the German population - getting their education about new technology they don't use mostly from the tabloids - say that whatever will be banned will help save the kids.

So, there you go, it's once again a matter of information and - I guess - education. Lack of proper education and medienkompetenz in both politics and population mixed with overzealous right-wing politicians, guess what kind of laws this will spawn... [/rant]

Re:How long does this need to go on? (2, Interesting)

Speck'sBacon (1042490) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942886)

So, there you go, it's once again a matter of information and - I guess - education. Lack of proper education and medienkompetenz in both politics and population mixed with overzealous right-wing politicians, guess what kind of laws this will spawn... [/rant]
I whole-heartedly agree, with the caveat that it's not just the right wing politicans that engage in patronizing attempts to protect the people from themselves. You need only look at New York City's recent ban of trans-fatty acids in cooking in all restaurants in the city. New York City is widely considered one of the most left-wing cities in the US, but there, they're banning something people can avoid by simply NOT EATING IT. Nanny-staters come in all colors of the political rainbow.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (2, Interesting)

saforrest (184929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944614)

New York City is widely considered one of the most left-wing cities in the US, but there, they're banning something people can avoid by simply NOT EATING IT.

Really? How exactly do you know when trans-fat is used at a restaurant?

For years, there have been health laws about restaurant food preparation, e.g. for preventing the contamination of restaurant food with rodent feces. Like the New York trans fat ban, these laws are intended for the customers' benefit but are a pain for restaurants to uphold.

If we can require customers to have the smarts to know whether trans fats are in their food, what's fundamentally different about requiring them to know whether their food was prepared in a clean environment? Why have health regulations at all? Let the market decide.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17940490)

"how long does a society need to live with the sins of it's past?"

I guess that's up to the society in question, and in this case that's them, not us.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (1)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 7 years ago | (#17942260)

When I was a graduate student, we had two german post docs join the research group (one from east germany, on from west germany - this was after reunification). There were two jewish graduates in the group, including myself. They were both decent, good people, although we never talked about the holocaust, or anything related to that.

One night at a conference, though, up in the hotel room after a good deal of beer, one of them apologized to my jewish collegue for the holocaust. (To which my friend replied, in typical fashion, "Hey, no problem."). This guy clearly felt very bad about it, although not from anything anyone actually said or did.

The thing about the holocaust, however, was the way it sucked in the entire german culture. It wasn't that there were a few mass murderers; rather, the whole society became geared towards the genocide of "outsiders" within it. Yes, there were heroes among the people of germany, but something terrible happened within the society as a whole. The feelings of guilt are collective because the society as a whole acted. And the culture doesn't disappear, it's transmitted through the generations. It wasn't the case of a small group of individuals.

From my rather distant vantage point, and from meeting these two post docs, it's clear that as individuals and as a society, a great deal of soul searching has been done in germany. (Again, I'm sure there are plenty of individuals there who would be Nazis if the whole thing started up today.) It seems to be important for german society. And it seems to be coming from within german society - I don't see it much being imposed from without. There are plenty of German tourists in Israel- I even stayed in a German run kibbutz when I was there several years ago. Whatever Germans are doing, they are doing for their own reasons.

And the Holocaust is not yet completely in the past. There are still Nazis being hunted down today. There are still problems with people recovering art, money, and bank accounts that were seized by the Nazis. Claims are still being fought over to this day. [archives.gov]

If you want to see societies which have NOT acknowledged their complicity, just look at Austria and the extreme right wing politics on the rise over there. The Germans seem determined not to do it again. Given the opportunity, Austria might. Look at Hungary, which was only occupied at the tail end of the war - but thanks to help from the local population, over two thirds of the Jews there were killed. [ushmm.org] Millions died in Poland [wikipedia.org] . There has been no widespread acknowledgment of complicity, and there's plenty of antisemitism in both of these countries. [findarticles.com]

I have met plenty of Germans, and had no problems with any of them. But I am pleased to see Germany still grappling with their past, of their own accord. Perhaps we could learn something.

Re:How long does this need to go on? (1)

jpardey (569633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943356)

Although I agree with the majority of your post, that a grouping of people cannot be judged on past actions (although anyone who joins the KKK is probably not in a , I think you should go further. It has been shown, to a large extent, that today or yesterday's anyone could be the one shovelling bodies into graves. Personally, I think the Milgram experiment [wikipedia.org] should be essential material in all high schools. It is so hard to acknowledge that ordinary people could commit such acts, and for comfort we assume we are different. We aren't. Of note in the Milgram experiment is the difference between expectations and reality in terms of those who went to the final shock. The sooner we realise this, the better we will be able to react to politicians and those in any power, and the less racial assumptions will be made (I hope).

Re:How long does this need to go on? (1)

jpardey (569633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943370)

whoops, knew that was in preview for a reason... (although anyone who joins the KKK is probably going to be joining based on the group's past actions), how's that?

Re:How long does this need to go on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945402)

> It's a fairly safe bet that today's German gamer
> isn't the same guy shoveling the bodies of
> holocaust victims into mass graves.

Problem is, if you say that in Germany, you are branded a Nazi in less than five seconds...

Here you all go. (5, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940016)

A little ditty I wrote on violent video games. Enjoy.

Hello all, I decided to finally write this down in response to some people asking me why I enjoy immeasurably violent video games and movies. This explanation is written using the game "Manhunt" as it's primary example, mainly because of it's subject matter (which can best be described as a "snuff video game"). PLEASE read it in it's entirety before responding, it's easy to think i'm making an uninformed point without reading the whole thing; I explain EVERY viewpoint I express.

Think about this, folks.

This "game" is not about sneakin' around, trying to see what the biggest mess you can make is. It's about much more than that. This game is in direct relation to the JTHM (Johnny the Homicidal Maniac by Jhonen Vasquez, for the uninitiated...) in all of us, the little black beast that we keep to ourselves.

Ever say "I wish he were dead", or "he makes me so angry I want to kill him"? Of course you have. Everyone has. This game is the digital manifestation of those thoughts. It's not about suffocating some guy, or creating the pink mist... This game does one thing and one thing only: it asks you a question. A very simple question to state, and frankly a very simple question to answer:

Is your black beast fictional or real?

Do you have a little playground for the demon inside of you, someplace it can go and harmlessly let out it's frustrations and rage? Or are you so jaded and blind that you cannot discern the difference between reality and fantasy?

Frankly, if you enjoy this game (along with ANY violent video game or movie, regardless of it's subject or presentation) you are not sick. You are normal. You are provided an outlet for the most primal emotions that you, as a human, have. Your most carnal instincts. If you don't like this game because the graphics suck, or the control is wonky, fine. BUT. If you despise this game because you say it's "too violent" and "unneccessary", and "too realistic", and whatever else, guess what: YOU are the sick one. That's not to say that you can't see it as being gross, or that you don't like it because you supposidly don't like violence (then why do you slow down to look at car accidents, hmm?) What it means is that if you say that violent things such as this push sane and "normal" people into being murderers in real life...well, I'm sorry, but you are wrong.

The first step anyone takes to becomming a murderer in real life is not being able to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Manhunt is fantasy. Does that mean something similar has not happend/could not happen? No. But your experience and memories of it happening are. It's a video game. It is designed to be a playground for your little black beast.

If you take it as being anything more serious than that...well, turn yourself in now.

You have to allow the little monster to come out every now and then and release it's frustrations. If you don't, you risk becomming a quivering mass of nervous and dangerous flesh. What better place to do this than in a simulated environment with simulated violence where the only things harmed are your eyes for staring at the screen?

It's... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17940556)

It's not it's, it's its.

Re:Here you all go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17940804)

Let's see here, we have

"The first step anyone takes to becomming a murderer in real life is not being able to tell the difference between reality and fantasy."

Really? And which part of your ass did you pull that one out of? Perhaps you would like to profer some evidence, since this is certainly not obvious.

Then there is
'If you despise this game because you say it's "too violent" and "unneccessary", and "too realistic", and whatever else, guess what: YOU are the sick one.'

So you're so full of yourself that anyone that doesn't agree with you is sick. That's informed.

And
"That's not to say that you can't see it as being gross, or that you don't like it because you supposidly don't like violence (then why do you slow down to look at car accidents, hmm?)"

You don't know what I slow down for, if anything besides the cars ahead slowing down. Do you always heap a ton of assumptions on the people you are 'arguing' with?

And
"If you take it as being anything more serious than that...well, turn yourself in now."

For what? Disagreeing with you? That's a crime now? Guess I better march myself to jail.

Straw man:
"What it means is that if you say that violent things such as this push sane and "normal" people into being murderers in real life..."

People are concerned because we are visual, image processing beings. When you have inured your image processing systems to images of killing others, especially where the killing images are life-like, people are afraid this will make killing in reality easier to do.

Re:Here you all go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17942066)

So if my 80 year old grandma doesn't like violent video games, it's because she's a homicidal maniac? Huh.

Re:Here you all go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17944680)

That's a shitty ditty. Was that supposed to be rap or something? Sounds more like a sermon.

Re:Here you all go. (1)

b.burl (1034274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946668)

Thats interesting. Here's a little ditty on harmful emotions penned by some truly amazing monks (and these are my words, not their;s, it's from memory) and similar to yours, try to read it until the end:

Cultivation of states of mind is a cumulative process. One one engages in states of meditation that feed the loving connected aspects of the mind, those tendencies will grow. The more time you spend in states of lovingkindness, the more lovingkindness will grow inside of you. Similarly, the more time your spend cultivating states of agitation, aggression, greed, or anger the more those states will grow inside of you. For whatever your actions/intentions are in this moment, they will influence your actions/intentions in the future. This is karma.

Mystical gobbledeegook? not according to the latest research in many fields including neurology. A recent article, http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/arti cle2171679.ece [independent.co.uk] , provides a little info. Or you can check out the book 'destructive emotions' for a more thorough treatment. In short, the mind is plastic, and what you think and feel on a regular basis shapes the actual physical network of the mind. Just like learning a musical instrument changes the physical structure of your mind and they way your brain processes information, so does cultivating so-called states of mind. Which opens up exciting avenues of treatment for all kinds of people, depressives, addicts, blind ragers, etc. But it can also be used for bad things, like cultivating states of anger or aggression.

I dont know if playing vids makes a person worse, but I really doubt if it somehow makes a person better.

Where have the old germans gone? (1)

ShaneThePain (929627) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940040)

NOTE: THE FOLLOWING POST IS HYPERBOLE. I AM EXAGGERATING MY ACTUAL OPINION IN ORDER TO CONVEY A FEELING.
Where the hell have the old badass germans gone? I miss old germany, always kicking ass and invading other countries on a whim. Germans used to be so cool. Whats that, france talking bad about us? INVADE!! CONQUER!!! DESTROY!!!
sigh, those were the days. I am definatly anti-nazi, but that kind of old-school hypernationalistic aggression is sorely missed these days. They have turned into complete pussies! Germany is one of the most socialist, left-leaning, hippie loving "nations" in europe.
Im really sick of it.

Germany needs to get its balls back. Just... attack someone. please. I dont even care if its lichtenstein.

please...

Re:Where have the old germans gone? (1)

Slashamatic (553801) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946366)

You want a bit of aggression? What about Formula-1 and Michael Schumacher? As a driver, you really didn't want to be in his way. There may be plenty of greens around but they aren't driving 200km/h down the autobahn. Every so often there is a discussion about restricting the unrestricted parts of the system but that gets shouted down.

I have a sudden mental image... (4, Funny)

MWoody (222806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940298)

Somewhere in Germany, little Anne Frank hides in the attic, frantically trying to hide the XBox as she hears the police knocking on the door...

Re:I have a sudden mental image... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17942140)

You compare the slaughter of the Jews to the loss of a video game system. That's really poor taste, even if it's a joke.

Re:I have a sudden mental image... (1)

sokoban (142301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17943528)

Somewhere in Germany, little Anne Frank hides in the attic, frantically trying to hide the XBox as she hears the police knocking on the door...
Well, you can strike that mental image right from your head.

Anne Frank hid in an attic in the Netherlands.

Re:I have a sudden mental image... (1)

MWoody (222806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944812)

But it was Germany when she was captured, was it not?

Re:I have a sudden mental image... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945724)

No.

In my best Kyle imitation... (1)

Dev59 (953144) | more than 7 years ago | (#17940358)

"Dude, what the fuck is wrong with German people?!" /South Park

"Click it off! Click it off!"

RPG Radiculopathy (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#17941620)

It doesn't help the German case that in the last story [slashdot.org] they sought to connect separate murder and kidnapping charges [ign.com] to the alleged perpetrators playing a turn-based RPG [wikipedia.org] . I mean, apart from their aliases, how the hell did it inspire them; did they and their victims take turns attacking each other?

BTW, don't mention RPG Radiculopathy [youtube.com] ; I mentioned it once [slashdot.org] but I think I got away with it all right.

I wonder if there was a rash of teenagers jumping their cars through buildings would Germany finally have a backlash against David Hasselhoff [imdb.com] ?

Gamers are from Mars, Jack Thompson in German. (1)

Miltron B (1046096) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944026)

"Excelent", said Herr Jack Thompson as he read ze Zeitung news this morning.

not quite right (2, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945452)

Ah, how simplification allows you to keep a simple world-view:

For example, laws prohibit the sale of Counter-Strike and other titles with blood-depicting graphics switched on.
That's not entirely correct. The appropriate laws are for the protection of minors, so the sentence is missing its ending: to minors.

It's the software companies' choice to only produce one version and sell that to everyone. As an adult, I could (the law allows it) buy whatever brutal, bloody games or movies there are. It's just that most software companies decide to not make a difference, probably because it wouuld be more expensive to ship two versions.

There are limitations that apply to adults as well, and which have been much more appropriate to mention after the introduction of the article. For example, the display of nazi symbols is illegal in Germany, except for historic purposes. That means that most games set in WW2 can not show the nazi cross. Wolfenstein and others circumvent this by using the eagle (symbol of the armed forces during the pre-nazi period) instead.

Re:not quite right (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945982)

I read that games are actually allowed to show Nazi symbols in the right context but that definition is so vague noone wants to risk trying it.

Re:not quite right (1)

courseB (837633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946274)

the whole swastika debate is crazy. we all know its been around for thousands of years as a hindu icon. but one nation perverts this and its axed from then on?

The Past has really nothing to do with it. (2, Interesting)

vorlich (972710) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946142)

Understanding what the German attitude to games censorship requires a certain amount of anthropological observation. Germany is a society concerned with avoiding responsibility for negative things and constantly obsessing about the future. The need to be correct is overpowering and results in the often amusing three-minute lectures that student frequently provide in answer to a simple questions. A student's question is often not a question at all but simply a mini-lecture. Contrast this with the primary need of the English speaker to be polite and respectful.

The range of skill sets within any area of society (commerce, academia public service) is very narrow and there is less of the eclecticism common in English speaking countries. It is not unusual therefore, for people to rely heavily on "experts" to provide the necessary decision making information. Decision making is a process fraught with difficulty for the individual in German society. It is not unusual for the entire family to be involved in buying a car and for the process to be a long drawn out activity. My mother in law spent over a week "buying" a VW van whilst I took about 26 seconds to buy a new Toyota - behaviour regarded with incredulity here.

The excitement about games is a combination of a number of things including the most elderly population in Europe, moribund political arena and fear of being wrong. The model of television and print media is again very different from that of English speaking countries: The Janet Jackson Superbowl boob is fine example. In the US media, they pixelated her entire chest area. On the BBC they simply showed the clip uncensored and on German television they digitally zoomed in on the nipple. Germans find the Superbowl fiasco hilarious. Two American colleagues felt uncomfortable when I showed The English Patient in class - apparently it had some scenes of a sexual nature (Juliette Binoche washes her hair in the shower!)

At about 11 am every day most TV shows have some sequence with men's naked bums in shot (I have no idea why! They're not attractive!) and from 5:45 pm to about 6:30 pm news magazine shows often find some reason to have bare breasts on show. German newspapers don't have a page three - they have a page one. Sex is not anything anyone is at all concerned with and sexual attitudes are almost completely liberal, the sex industry is legal and subject to state regulations (the local brothel is opposite the supermarket next to the DIY store, a concept that always makes me smile).

Germans however are very concerned about the depiction of violence and have a rating system for games and DVD's and other media based on the American Hays Code known as Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft or FSK. This rating system is voluntary and self-regulating and was deliberately intended to remove the state from the control of censorship after 1945. Gore fest movies are rated as Keine Jugendfreigabe (not for under 18's)

Violence in games is or was a big issue when some nut job who shot up a school was found to be a Counter Strike fan. and blaming all of this on that keeps things nice and simple.

Don't imagine for a moment that any of this self regulation is regarded as sinister or anti-democratic it isn't, it is thought of as a sensible approach to creating a healthy environment for children.

Some points about the war. Anyone who was 18 at the end of the war would be 80 years old today. Most of the area where I live in Germany lost 75% of the buildings and population so most of the Germans here are new, born after the war and a significant proportion are about as German as me. Here we celebrate the German resistance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_resistance [wikipedia.org]

Finally it is all rather hyped-up to be honest. A survey of my computing students put Counter-Strike near the top of their favourites but not as high as anything with a Ferrari in it. My German copy of Panzer Elite Action Fields of Glory begins with the tank commander saying

"Lets show these Poles what happens to anyone who invades The Fatherland"*
a remark that astonished my missus.

*Historical footnote. The Third Reich invaded Poland.

WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946862)

It's anoying engought that german politicians flat-out lie to the public and the public doesn't take notice even though the could easyly know better. Slashdot needn't do the same thing - especially on a topic that the nerd community should keep corrected.

To - once again - get it freaking straight:
Robert Steinhäuser didn't learn his killing skills from CounterStrike. He learned them during "Action Shooting" lessons (they are actually officially called that way in Germany!) with a pump gun in his german gun club (Schützenverein). The rounds with which he killed 15 people where rounds he legally possed by german law and by german law was enabled to legally obtain! With an american brand gun that is built for but one purpose: Killing/'Stoping' people. Which he also legally possesed due to being a member of a german gun club!
If you ask me, handing out such a type of gun to a 16 year old hormone bundle is questionable to say the least.

But anyway and aside from that the bottom line is:
If german officials talk about "Killergames" and banning them that's all fine and dandy, by if they don't talk about "Killer-Clubs (If FPS == Killerspiele THEN Schützenvereine == Killervereine!!!) before that, then they are nothing but self-ritious lying bigot bastards. The whole lot of them. It's about time the german geek/nerd/gamer community made itself heard on this. But when was the last time nerds got of their lazy asses and got political? ... Exactly.
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