At the award ceremony on thursday evening, state minister of culture bernd neumann (CDU) explained that titles with depictions of violence could “hardly be culturally and pedagogically valuable”. On the other hand, thomas jarzombek (CDU), member of the bundestag and member of the jury, justified the awards. The game set artistic standards. SPD politician bjorn bohning argued for a stronger focus on the economic opportunities of computer games.
“Crysis 2” was named best german game. The jury praised the war scenario set in a destroyed manhattan for its “high level of gameplay, innovative game mechanics and outstanding graphics. Developer crytek has convinced and inspired audiences and experts worldwide. The jury awarded prizes to games in six other categories, including “harvey’s new eyes” from daedalic entertainment as best youth game and “drakensang online” as best browser game. The lara award, organized by gruner + jahr entertainment, was also presented at the gala. The award for best international game went to “the elder scrolls V: skyrim” from us developer bethesda.
The controversy about the cultural value of a war game was sparked by the CDU member of parliament wolfgang bornsen. Shortly before the award ceremony, the cultural and media policy spokesman for his parliamentary group said that "so-called killer games" should not be honored. Content criteria had to be rated higher than technical quality. The gaming industry as well as politicians from several parties rejected his criticism.
Background to the dispute: the award is organized by the industry associations BIU and GAME together with the minister of state for culture, whose house contributes half of the total prize money of 385,000 euros. This is also reflected in the award criteria. The award, first presented in 2009, is intended to encourage the development of "innovative, culturally and educationally valuable computer and video games". The prize winners are chosen by an independent jury.
Between show interludes and acceptance speeches, this discussion was also heard again and again at the gala. State minister of culture neumann defends bornsen’s position. But he did not question the prize itself. Computer games are "a leading medium used most by young people". So it was right to bring them out of the "defensive corner," he said. "High quality performance" needed to be rewarded.
On the other hand, felix falk, head of the USK, a self-regulatory body that tests computer games, praised the opening of the award for titles from the age of 18. "In addition to pedagogy, culture and technical innovation, we must not forget one criterion, and that is the gameplay," he emphasized. This could mean something completely different for a 30 year old than for a 13 year old. "Computer games have the right to an unprejudiced view, just like all other media."Since the protection of minors functions well in germany, one can also look forward to good content for adults.
SPD politician bohning, head of the state chancellery of berlin, highlighted the economic opportunities of the computer games industry. In the capital region alone, there are 4,000 companies active in this field. "We need liberalism so that creativity can develop. This refers to all games."
The discussion about the cultural value of games is likely to continue. Neumann proposed to discuss a revision of the award criteria in the cultural committee of the federal parliament. Jarzombek announced the establishment of a parliamentary computer games group. The criteria for the award will also be discussed there.