Back in 1994, id Software's Doom was put on a German index of "controlled titles" likely to harm youth -- requiring the game to be sold only in adults-only stores and effectively giving it the same status as pornography.
Following a review by the Bundesprufstelle (the German Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons) earlier last month, restrictions on the sale of both Doom and its sequel Doom II expired on August 31. The review followed an appeal by Bethesda, who currently own id.
The game was originally banned from public release due to the fact that the game involved "bloody sadistic" violence that was not balanced out by other scenes -- an accurate description, since Doom came from an era when no developer had quite figured out how to tell a story in a first person shooter game. The Bundesprufstelle told the BBC that games which feature "drastic portrayals of violence directed against human or human-like beings" are likely to be judged as harmful to minors if they do not contain some downtime from the carnage -- "alternative scenes which might on the whole 'neutralize' the violent parts.'" In other words, violence and dismemberment is just fine if there's enough standing around talking, picking flowers or riding unicorns.
The restrictions have been relaxed due to the primitive nature of Doom's technology. The Bundesprufstelle now believes that Doom is primarily of historical interest, and that far more realistic and violent games are now available, even on mobile phones. Minors are more likely to pursue games which are considerably less than 17 years old, the organization argued -- a viewpoint with which Bethesda agreed in its appeal.
If and when Doom does go back on sale it will carry a 16+ rating. The version of Doom II which may see release in Germany will have the Nazi symbology from the Wolfenstein 3D secret levels removed.
This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as Doom No Longer Banned in Germany