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Switzerland Passes Violent Games Ban 294

Posted by Soulskill
from the they're-just-mad-they-suck-at-olympic-hockey dept.
BanjoTed writes with a followup to news from February that the Swiss government was pursuing a ban on violent video games. He writes "Sadly, Switzerland has now passed the law that paves the way for an outright ban on violent video games in the country. The full implications of the ruling will not be known until the government reveals the exact requirements that will be laid down by the new legislation – a decision that has not yet been made. What is certain though is that the Swiss authorities have now obtained the power to introduce any measures they see fit. The likeliest outcome seems to be an outright ban on the production, distribution and sale of any games deemed to be unsuitable – most likely anything with either a PEGI 16+ or PEGI 18+ certificate."
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Switzerland Passes Violent Games Ban

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  • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @01:26PM (#31558492)
    You are aware that Switzerland is *more* capitalistic than the rest of Western Europe right? Due to the lack of a common ethnic or linguistic background, they adopted a form of government quite similar to that of the U.S.; federalist in nature, with significant autonomy for the cantons. Their health care is provided by private organizations, and while the base level health care is required to be offered on a non-profit basis, anything above the base level is offered on a for-profit basis similar to our own. It's one of the few countries to allow assisted suicide, which is a personal freedom even the U.S. denies. Troll all you want, but Switzerland is not the country to use as an object lesson.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 21, 2010 @01:27PM (#31558506)

    Is it just me or is the entire world going into a period of reduced freedom and increased state control? Every developed nation appears to be banning violent games, porn and free speech in general and they're doing it for no logical reasons. Modern Warfare 2 sold 6.4million copies in the first week in the US and UK alone and yet there weren't 6.4million new mass murders on the streets. This is more than sufficient evidence to prove that violent games don't turn people into killers and yet are moronic, moralist rulers still press on with their attacks on our freedom.

    The one thing that will turn me into a killer is if this continues because I'm growing to hate society more and more by the day. It's been shown many times throughout history that people will only take so much before heads start to roll.

  • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @01:30PM (#31558532)

    The one thing that will turn me into a killer is if this continues because I'm growing to hate society more and more by the day. It's been shown many times throughout history that people will only take so much before heads start to roll.

    Yeah, but that was before the politicians came up with the "Think of the children" ploy. That one still seems to have quite a bit of juice left in it.

  • Location (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 21, 2010 @01:35PM (#31558554)

    Isn't Switzerland in Europe? Whats to stop swiss gamers from driving to Germany, Italy or whatever and buying their games there?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 21, 2010 @01:47PM (#31558624)

    Take the piss all you like, the fact is they have the highest gun ownership in Europe and the lowest gun crime.

    Back on topic, follow the sponsors of this law, chances are they have an axe to grind and the Swiss voters will soon cost these people their jobs.

    Let's hope so. I'm from the U.S. and there's plenty of this nonsense happening here: I mean, you'd almost think that our lawmakers have all our problems under complete control and have nothing more important to do with their time (and our money.)

    What it comes to down to is expectations vs. reality ... what do these people (indeed, anyone who wants to "ban" something) want to see happen to society, and what is the probability of that actually occurring? And is that outcome worth the price (the law of unintended consequences is always a factor.) A good law is one that has a beneficial outcome with minimal costs to society and that doesn't violate any core laws or principles of that society. It's hard to see what a ban on violent gaming will actually do, noisy rhetoric and flawed "research" aside. As you say, the country already has more guns per capita than just about anyone else (excepting perhaps the U.S., but I don't know the numbers) and comparatively little violent crime. Personally, I just don't see the point.

  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @01:56PM (#31558688)

    Obviously pretty much any RTS is out of the question. War games as well. First Person Shooters. But what about other types of games?

    Is it one where violence is the primary incentive or primary way to complete a game?
    If so, where does that place a game like Thief: The Dark Project [wikipedia.org], where violence runs counter to the spirit of the game?

    Is it one where any kind of violence can take place?
    If so, will that not eliminate any kind of racing game, where crashes are quite violent?

    Is it one where you, as a player, can inflict damage to a humanoid character?
    If so, what will that do to games like The Sims, where you can trap a character inside a house, letting them starve to death or set fire to the house?

    What about sandbox games like Second Life, that doesn't have a specific purpose? I realise that quite a lot of people hate Second Life, but here it's a good example of a non-violent violent game. If you want it to be violent, it can be. If you don't want it to be, it won't be.

    Is Mario a violent game? After all you need to kill off a lot of enemies to complete the game, or at the very least you have to avoid them killing you. Zelda? Sonic?

    What about pure text based games, like Zork? Magic: The Gathering and other similar card-games that have expanded onto the computer?

    Does chess count as a violent game? What about Battle Chess [youtube.com]?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 21, 2010 @02:05PM (#31558742)

    Take the piss all you like, the fact is they have the highest gun ownership in Europe and the lowest gun crime.

    They also have compulsory gun ownership for all military age males, so that particular statistic is pretty biased.

  • by causality (777677) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @02:09PM (#31558764)

    Is it just me or is the entire world going into a period of reduced freedom and increased state control? Every developed nation appears to be banning violent games, porn and free speech in general and they're doing it for no logical reasons. Modern Warfare 2 sold 6.4million copies in the first week in the US and UK alone and yet there weren't 6.4million new mass murders on the streets. This is more than sufficient evidence to prove that violent games don't turn people into killers and yet are moronic, moralist rulers still press on with their attacks on our freedom.

    I've been wondering for several years now how long this must go on before the average person realizes that it's a concerted effort. Two or three sovereign nations adopting similar restrictions in similar timeframes is a coincidence. Most of the Western world doing so within the same timespan of a few years indicates a common agenda. It has to be at least significant enough to overcome nationalistic pride, "not invented here", and other factors that would tend to make any given nation not want to follow the lead of all the others.

    Only the public education system could produce such large numbers of people who fail to realize or fail to appreciate that a frighteningly small number of people strongly influence, control, and own the major governments and multinational corporations of the world. Historically, small aristocratic elites have never cared about what was in the interests of the average person. Why does anyone suppose they would start caring about that now with video games and the freedom to play the ones of your choice?

    What has already happened among the various states of the US is now happening with nations. US states once had significant differences in terms of social norms and state laws. If one state's restrictions really bothered you, you could move to another state that had different laws. Now they all have the same drinking age, the same smoking age, similar speed limits, the same list of prohibited substances, etc. The same thing is happening to nations.

    The tendency now is to gradually erode the diversity that exists among nations and turn them into uniform carbon copies of each other so you cannot "vote with your feet" for greater freedoms. This is necessary for two reasons. One, a highly visible counterexample might cause people to decide they won't accept arbitrary restrictions ("country X didn't ban Y, and they haven't had problems with it, so why do we ban Y?"). Two, a few nations that remain free countries would have significant economic (and other) advantages when competing with the ones that jump on the state-control bandwagon. This is in fact one reason why the USA became a superpower in the first place.

    Both of those points would serve to undermine the notion that central management of daily life is a necessary function of modern states. That's why so many nations are doing this at once. It's quite obvious to me that it's more than coincidence.

  • An empty gesture (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Angst Badger (8636) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @02:17PM (#31558826)

    Three things will happen here. First, because Switzerland is a relatively small, landlocked country, many Swiss gamers will simply take the relatively short drive to a neighboring country to purchase the games they want. Second, many games are available for purchase online, so the drive will in many cases be unnecessary. And third, anyone who was still waiting for an excuse to pirate games in Switzerland now has it, and quite frankly, more power to them.

    The only way this could be more of an empty gesture is if the Swiss legislature banned wicked thoughts. Good luck with that.

  • by causality (777677) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @02:32PM (#31558932)

    That would be a niggardly response, don't you think? Why should posts that offend some be deleted? Selfish in the extreme IMO.

    Well done; you nailed it. It masquerades as a noble cause that, coincidentally enough, is difficult to oppose just like the "for the children" or "to stop terrorists" excuses. Really it's an incredibly selfish desire to "cleanse" the world of everything the person finds distasteful. With good old ends-justify-the-means consequentialism, this type of selfishness will make people advocate censorship and other cures that are worse than the disease.

    It's like that saying: most people have two reasons why they do anything -- a good reason, and the real reason. I call it a corrupting influence because the person is usually not aware that the real reason exists, which makes their agenda little more than software they are mindlessly executing.

  • by icebraining (1313345) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @03:02PM (#31559154) Homepage

    A country that bans the building of minarets (by popular vote) is retarded. The xenophobia is rampant, and not only against Muslims. And only in 1990 women were allowed to vote in all cantons.

    Regardless of their position on "violent" games, they have some serious problems.

  • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @03:13PM (#31559216)
    That's a naive, if understandable way of looking at things. By that logic, the federal government couldn't have laws against murder that were enforced outside of D.C. The Constitution is a mess of clauses that inevitably conflict in the real world, and common law makes the situation even more muddled. Practically speaking, the 10th is interpreted very narrowly; i.e. the federal government has a lot of powers not specifically delegated, but rather granted through centuries of legal decisions. That's why I'm saying it's in legal limbo; until federal courts specify which side of the line it falls on, we don't know whether the law applies, but that doesn't usually stop the feds from acting on their own personal interpretation.
  • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Sunday March 21, 2010 @03:15PM (#31559222) Homepage

    Because it's comparing apples (people who wanted a gun and so bought one) vs oranges (people who may or may not have wanted one but are legally required to have one anyway).

  • by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @03:23PM (#31559274)

    I agree completely, and I've been thinking on this for a while. For example, (not to pick an inflammatory topic, but it's the first one that came to mind) is it right to call a black person a nigger? No, it's not, and I don't. Does that mean that use of the word should be legislated? Absolutely not. I do, and should, have the right to be an anti-social asshole and use whatever slurs I want. It doesn't mean that the behavior is socially acceptable, and it doesn't make it "right", but we've long ago crossed the line where the government has been legislating morality and it needs to be halted and rolled back. It is extremely prevalent in all cultures and it is both frightening and sad. From legislating the morality of marriage, to the publishing of porn, suicide, "illicit" drugs, what kind of video games I can purchase - a government has no business legislating anything that does not directly harm others, and "hurt feelings" or a different kind of high do not qualify as direct harm. I should be able to smoke pot just as I can drink tequila. I should be able to look at any porn (excluding "true" child porn) that I want. I should be able to choose any partner I want - I don't think the state should be involved in marriage at all.

    I do not think a future where everyone is protected from every possible harm, insult, self inflicted damage is a good future.

  • by Jedi Alec (258881) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @04:01PM (#31559590)

    Yes, you are. While I strongly dislike the foreign policy of the US, Switzerland's xenophobia is an embarrassment for all of western Europe.

    Compared to the bastions of friendliness to foreigners that say, Austria, the UK and the Netherlands are becoming lately?

    Plenty of embarassment to go around...

  • by Boldoran (1660753) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @04:14PM (#31559686)
    This is true. The actual law has not yet been created. This mandate may have found a majority only because the initiators played the "think of the children" card. I'm pretty sure some of the more lazy people in the parliament din't take the time to really go into the details yet. They just agreed with the general idea that we need an enforcable system to prevent children from getting M rated games. Of course this does make them look pretty bad especially since several members and even the Federal Minister warned them that the mandate is aiming at a total ban even for adults. Still I think this won't pass as a law in the end. And as pointed out even if it does we as the people can force a public vote on it (of course that won't be a cakewalk to win because the generation 45+ does not "get" games). Just pointing out that it is not time to freak out yet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 21, 2010 @04:42PM (#31559936)

    Nah, it's not a concerted effort in the sense that anything was planned in advance. It's just the herd effect. If your neighbor's government bans violent video games, and then another neighbor's government does does, pretty soon your government is going to start wondering if they maybe have a point. This happens especially if the neighboring countries are generally friendly and well-respected.

    That said, it's still stupid.

    FWIW, the USA has yet to ban violent video games, and I doubt it ever will.

  • by ZeRu (1486391) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @04:54PM (#31560062)

    even in the unlikely event that that law then will be passed by the parlament, we just need 50k signatures to get a public vote on it (in a world with facebook, that will be very easy).

    I doubt that Facebook groups can influence politicians to change laws, gamers would have to make some public protests and form lobby groups like they did in Australia to change anything. However, since Switzerland is the most peaceful nation on the world, I doubt that their people are very fond of street protests.

    I'm not a Swiss though so I might be wrong about that, it's just how I percieve them, being happy with their Government and all.

    Regardless, you can't *protest* on Facebook. as convenient as that would be.

  • by Goondra (855859) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @05:26PM (#31560348) Homepage

    Good for Switzerland!
    About time some morality was interjected into the present day culture.

    Killing is bad. Depicting killing as a game is bad. Didn't your parents teach you that? If not then now is the time to learn it.

  • by cdrnet (1582149) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @05:31PM (#31560406)

    They don't have to influence politicians, they have to influence the people to sign an initiative and then later to vote for it (direct democracy) - 1/3 of them being on Facebook.

  • by oakwine (1709682) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @07:39PM (#31561422)
    Chess began as a symbolic war game. The pawns were swordsmen, the knights were knights, the rooks were war elephants, etc. The same principle might apply to other board games with opposing sides, such as checkers. PC and Console Games, anybody's guess really as to how the legislation will be written in each country. The clash between market demand as fulfilled by game developers and the perceived need for protecting the mental health of children has led to this crisis, which may turn into a growing international crisis all too soon.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 21, 2010 @08:43PM (#31561958)

    There are plenty of other ethnic slurs [wikipedia.org] that are equally as offensive--e.g., spic, dago, chink--but no one gives a flying horseshit about those for some reason.

    That might be because they're not at all equally offensive unless you're a particularly sensitive member of one of the groups to which they refer, and even then other members of that group would probably consider you to be some sort of butthurt sissy for not laughing it off.

    No, the "N" word has a special place among slurs due to a its long history and association with intimidation, oppression, and real-live-non-video-game violence against its targets. It is a word that isn't getting laughed off when used.

  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Monday March 22, 2010 @12:19AM (#31563538)

    It would be great if moderation could objectively rank posts (if that means anything) or even rank them according to an individuals tastes or beliefs, but the way it really works is a handful of people you don't know are deciding when the4 earplugs go on or off. So all you really get to choose is whether you want to evaluate posts on your own or eliminate those that other people don't want you to see.

Entropy requires no maintenance. -- Markoff Chaney

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