In addition to the committee meetings and parliamentary debate sessions on the Bundestag's schedule for Wednesday, politicians can pick up a controller and try out of whole host of computer games, from the family-friendly Wii to violent shoot-em-up titles, which have become bogeymen to many a German lawmaker.
Bavarian MP Dorothee Bär, the deputy general secretary of the conservative Christian Social Union, said she wanted to provide colleagues with a “protected space where they can try out computer games, because while a lot of them talk about it, few know much about the games themselves,” she told public broadcaster ARD.
Representatives from game manufacturers will be on hand to help inexperienced hands figure out which buttons to push.
Many German politicians have been critical of video games, especially violent ones like “Call of Duty” or “Counterstrike,” where the goal is often to mow down as many enemies as possible. The games enjoy global popularity – there are an estimated 50,000 to 200,000 Counterstrike players always online – but many Germans worry the digital violence can be psychologically damaging to players and inspire real-world acts of aggression.
Some of those critical voices were not at all impressed with Wednesday's plans for a so-called LAN party.
“I would have preferred that these killer games hadn't been shown,” said Hans-Peter Uhl, the interior affairs spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in parliament. “These kinds of games touch on people's ugliest instincts and shouldn't be made available to youth.”
Hardy Schober, whose daughter was killed in a 2009 school shooting, told ARD: “I feel mocked by these politicians who are going to a party to learn how to kill each other virtually.”
But Bär, 32, said she and the other two organizers of the event, Manuel Höferlin and Jimmy Schulz of the Free Democrats, feel it is unfair to always put the blame for youth violence on video games.
“Brutal films like ‘Inglourious Basterds' get an Oscar, so apparently there are other standards for movies as there are for video games, and that's not right,” she said. “Computer games are a part of German culture now.”