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Online discussion: Protection of the Constitution at Gamescom causes stir

Online discussion : Protection of the Constitution at Gamescom causes stir

The State Office for the Protection of the Constitution NRW is represented again this year at the video games fair Gamescom in Cologne. However, the state of affairs of the authority is a source of discussion on the Internet.

The world's largest computer and video games trade fair, Gamescom, started this Tuesday in Cologne. While only press and trade visitors are admitted on the first day, the gates will open for all visitors on Wednesday. However, a stand of the constitutional protection agency will already be providing material for discussions in the run-up to the event.

The State Office for the Protection of the Constitution of North Rhine-Westphalia, which reports to the Ministry of the Interior, has selected screens for its stand that show a large German flag with three burn holes. Below one of the holes is the lettering "HKNKRZ" – an abbreviation of the German word for "swastika", which is used as a code word in the right-hand scene. The other two burn holes conceal the flag of the Islamic state and an "A" – a symbol used mainly by anarchists and punks. The visual language is unmistakable: extremist movements lead to the dissolution of democracy, according to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

A Twitter user on Monday had expressed his incomprehension about putting the abbreviation "HKNKRZ" and the "A" on the same level. In addition to the encouragement he received, however, he also received opposition: "All three areextremist symbols, so where is the problem?

“The State Office for the Protection of the Constitution NRW is represented at the fair for the third time. An employee who did not want to be named explained that he could not understand the "excitement" when asked by the GA. "The sign of anarchy is also a symbol of left-wing extremism," to which attention is to be drawn alongside jihadism and right-wing extremism. Also the extremism of the left side is anti-democratic. The NRW Ministry of the Interior supportedthis argument on GA inquiry. In the past, "more blatant motives" had already been used for advertising. According to the employee, it is good that the campaign is noticed. This is part of the educational work. From its stand at Gamescom, the NRW Office for the Protection of the Constitution hopes to approach a young audience with contemporary media formats.

"Steam" and "4chan" – meeting places for extremists

The video game scene has also recently moved into the focus of constitutional authorities because of several chat forums. The games platform "Steam" and forums such as "4chan" are accused of meeting not only gamers but also extremists of all kinds. The assassin from the Munich Olympic Center, for example, is said to have been networked on the "Steam" platform. The brutal double murder of Herne, in which a teenager killed his nine-year-old neighbour in March 2017 with several stab wounds and uploaded photos of the crime to "4Chan", also caused a sensation. At an event in Berlin in May, Thomas Haldenwang, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, said about the danger posed by chat forums, which are actually mainly used for communication in video games: "Even though they initially appear harmless, they have increasingly moved into the focus of extremists in recent years.

Discussions about recruiting young people

Already last year there were discussions about the offensive recruiting of the Bundeswehr at Gamescom. On postersit said at that time: "Multiplayer at its best" or "More Open World is impossible". The Bundeswehr was accused of glorifying real war missions. In any case, the actions of the Bundeswehr and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution show that contactwithyoung people is to be intensified. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution in NRW will soon be launching two Youtube channels to warn against Salafism. On this Thursday, Interior Minister Herbert Reul will present the channels at Gamescom. Original text: Felix Schröder Translation: Mareike Graepel