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The Real Reason Call Of Duty: Vanguard Might Allow Censoring

The concept of censorship is always touchy, and gamers have traditionally rallied against it, like when players weren't allowed to name their characters after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in "New World." Now players may have the opportunity to choose whether to not they want "Call of Duty: Vanguard" to remove Nazi iconography from their playthrough. 

A fair number of games have been banned or censored in the United States, but other countries have a different relationship with the subject. The Australian classification board was criticized for banning "Disco Elysium" due to its in-game drug use system. Germany, meanwhile, has maintained a total ban on Nazi symbols in video games until very recently (per BBC News). According to Forbes, this ban was likely the main reason there were none to be found in the multiplayer mode of "Call of Duty: World War 2." It's also why Bethesda replaced the swastikas with a triangular sigil in the German release of "Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus."

Even now that the complete ban has been lifted in Germany, putting Nazi symbolism in any game is always a controversial decision. On the one hand, it seems more or less necessary for historical accuracy in games that utilize WW2-era Europe as their setting. But on the other hand, many people find them offensive and argue that showing them can be genuinely harmful. If recent leaks are to be believed, "Call of Duty: Vanguard" may have found a compromise.

Call of Duty: Vanguard's possible approach to censoring harmful imagery

Gaming journalist and known leaker Tom Henderson recently posted a tweet indicating that Activision and Sledgehammer Games may have figured out how to deal with the offensive imagery. "It looks like there could be an option in the #Vanguard campaign to have either the Swastika or Iron Cross," Henderson tweeted. "As previously mentioned, the Swastika was displayed instead of the Iron Cross in some internal artwork." Henderson included a screenshot from the newly released "Vanguard" campaign trailer. The screenshot appears to show a man in a burning hazmat suit which is on fire — and behind him, there are red banners on a building in the background which clearly bear swastikas.

Commenters on Henderson's post seemed to be largely onboard with the idea of leaving these design elements up to the player. If Henderson's intel is accurate, that means "Call of Duty: Vanguard" players will have the opportunity to choose their own historical experience when the game launches on Nov. 5, 2021.