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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 gad_zuki! (70830) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @01:17PM (#31558424)

    gaming on Futurama's Neutral Planet would be.

    "Banned for not being Neutral enough."

    "I hate these filthy neutrals, Kif! With enemies, you know where they stand, but with neutrals - who knows. It sickens me."

  • Possession with intent to distribute?
  • by geekmux (1040042) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @01:23PM (#31558472)

    Boy, it sure is a good thing they wrapped up all the violence into small packages with nifty little stickers on them! Whew, for a minute there, I was worried that I might actually see a "policeman" in that country, or find vulgar language on Youtube the next time I'm visiting there. Goodness me...

    • by jpyeck (1368075) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @01:56PM (#31558690)
      Sarcasm noted, however...

      Having lived 2 years in Switzerland, their security is assured very proactively. Every male 18 to 40ish is required to serve in their military. It's not unusual to see tanks rolling down the street midday, on the way to training. Soldiers are often seen on the trains in full uniform, with weapon, off to their weekend on-duty. At a colleague's home, his service rifle was propped up in the corner next to his Swatch collection. Police with automatic weapons are obvious on their patrols at the airport in Zurich.

      The Swiss may be conservative, but afraid of violence, they are not.
    • by Herkum01 (592704)

      Don't forget, they will bundle the game with its very own secret bank account! SWEET! Less violence, more embezzling, everyone WINS!

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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.

    • Free speech has been under attack almost from the moment it was invented (ie. Alien and Sedition Laws). Politicians and bureaucrats despise freedom, they fear it. Somehow the cowards and the tyrants always reach the top.

      Well, it ain't too flippin' hard for Swiss gamers to get the games in. As usual, these laws inconvenience only the average consumer.

    • 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.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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.

    • Is it just me or is the entire world going into a period of reduced freedom and increased state control?

      Nope: there is still plenty of freedom in Democratic Republic of Congo and no shortage of guns and violence (and the music is great too).

    • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vikstar (615372)

      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.

      To play the devil's advocate, if there were 6.3 million new mass murders then it would be ok too? How do you know that the number of murders didn't significantly increase, or that the number of murders won't increase due to the effects of this game on young minds once they grow up? You're lack of scientific evidence is worse than that on the other side of the argument, with the difference that they actually have done studies (however flawed) and you have not, your pulling conclusions from your anus.

  • If video games cause real world behavior, based on sales of the EA NHL 94-99 series games, the NHL should be vastly more popular than it is today. There should be an entire generation of hardcore American hockey fans who grew up playing the EA games.

    But, there isn't. No one played NHL 99 and suddenly decided to demand their community center add a hockey rink.

  • there won't be ban (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 21, 2010 @01:46PM (#31558616)

    don't worry, there was no law passed. what passed was a mandate to the gov to create a law. that law needs to be voted on if it comes (and nobody knows what form it will have anyway).

    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).

    So no panic, this just just the healthy way a democracy works, everybody has his ideas, and in the end we can vote on them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Boldoran (1660753)
      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 w
  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @01:50PM (#31558650) Homepage

    I have played all sorts of games where targeting and destroying objects is what the game is all about. This started with military flight simulations and went on to tanks, mechs and space ships. Then there was the first-person shooter... started out shooting Nazis then monsters and other people... at least the shapes were people.

    Also, there have been "boxing" and wrestling games for a very long time -- widely accepted sports that are also quite violent. In fact, American football is quite violent.

    I know this is targeting the grand theft auto games, but there are LOTS of games where there is killing and dying. Few with rape and beating activities, but still. As far as I am concerned, MOST games are violent or could be considered such. Where should the line be drawn? The line certainly can't be straight as there are simply too many exceptions in government.

    Cops are allowed to be violent. Soldiers are allowed to be violent. The news is permitted to display violence. Art is allowed to depict violent scenes... many of which are considered to be masterpieces.

    And while we are telling people what they can and can't do in the privacy of their own homes, let's outlaw "violent" sex play... no more bondage and certainly no role plays or sexual fantasies that might be considered violent.

    The term "slippery slope" is an understatement when it comes to this topic.

    Forget legislating against entertainment. Let's legislate good parenting and see how many career-minded professionals and politicians get caught up in that net.

  • but at least it's a clearly stated policy with a clearly stated agenda. I disagree with this kind of censorship but it's better than the "refused classification" ban in Australia which seems to be open to more liberal interpretation than this law (although we'll have to see how it's effected).

  • 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]?

    • Does chess count as a violent game?

      No, silly, only things old people don't like get banned, not everything that fits the definition.

  • Some games are obviously violent (GTA, Call of Duty, Quake). But what about cartoon violence, like Pokemon or even old
    school Pacman? Maybe the measure addresses this
    problem, but I have a hard time trusting politicians to come up with a meaningful definition that would apply to things that might need it but not to those that don't.

    Of course all of this ignores the issue of one group of people deciding what larger group of can enjoy as entertainment when said entertainment isn't hurting anyone. Any state will

    • by Spatial (1235392)
      Hey, Pokemon is pretty violent.

      You play a lunatic child, going around enslaving and imprisoning sentient creatures. You keep them confined permanently except to cockfight them with other lunatics until one loses consciousness. Then you steal their money.

      Brutal!
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @02:02PM (#31558730)

    Did someone pass a law banning correlation between Slashdot headlines and the actual stories?

    Title: game banned
    Story: new law paves the way for a ban, but it's still unclear.

    It use to be once in a while, but now...

    What's next?

    Title: Civilization destroyed in improbable cataclysmic event!
    Story: 2012 released on DVD and Blu-Ray

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      Exactly. Switzerland is still a much more direct democracy than most countries. In Switzerland, the population is the last one having a saying, and can just block a law between coming from parliament and becoming an actual law.

      I really doubt this gets trough. Switzerland is usually not that retarded. Its population is pretty active in politics. It’s not that rare that something is blocked.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        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.

  • The idea of a total ban has more holes than a lump of Swiss cheese.

  • Help! (Score:2, Informative)

    by goruka (1721094)
    I thought this could only happen in Venezuela, because Chavez was an evil dictator..

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/03/04/2136257/Venezuela-Bans-Hostile-Videogames-and-Toys?from=rss [slashdot.org]

    I'm confused now..
  • 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 digitig (1056110)
      "Relatively short drive"? If you live in Berne, Multimap is giving me over 100 miles each way to get to a likely town outside Swizerland. Man, you've got to really want that game!
      • by vlm (69642)

        "Relatively short drive"? If you live in Berne, Multimap is giving me over 100 miles each way to get to a likely town outside Swizerland. Man, you've got to really want that game!

        The tired old saying rears its ugly head again, in Europe they think 100 miles is far away, and in America they think 100 years is a long time ago.

      • by TheKidWho (705796)

        Silly Europeans, 100 miles is a pretty short drive.

        • by digitig (1056110)
          It's about 3 hours in UK traffic, and would cost me about £15 in fuel; I don't think Swizerland is that different. But don't forget, that's each way, so it's 6 hours and £30 (almost doubling the likely cost of the game). If I left after work then the store would be closed by the time I got there, so it's a big chunk out of the weekend. So sure, gamers will still be able to get the games, but they won't have any time left to play them. Result! (For the censors, anyway).
      • "Relatively short drive"? If you live in Berne, Multimap is giving me over 100 miles each way to get to a likely town outside Swizerland. Man, you've got to really want that game!

        If you don't think 100 miles each way is a "relatively short drive" then I'm guessing you're European. Few Americans think much of driving such a distance for trivial things -- heck, some do it just to get to and from work every day! But then, since we're talking about Europeans then I guess you have a point....

    • by drsquare (530038)

      Fourth, it'd lead to all sorts of complications with European trade laws.

    • by feepness (543479)

      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.

      More power to them because it's somehow better than paying?

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @02:18PM (#31558832)

    Grand Theft Auto - Zurich

    Take control of young tough Friedrich Heinz Lykakok as he battles his way up the hierarchy of the illicit precision watch market, and eventually targets the trillions of secret dollars and Euros squirreled away in secret Swiss bank accounts. In between missions, tool around the streets and find a lovely little Swiss miss with whom to pass the time.

    Pre-order now and get an unlock code for the Sig 550 rifle that shoots fine chocolate bullets. Carnage in the streets never tasted so sweet!

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Sunday March 21, 2010 @02:34PM (#31558952) Homepage

    Every able-bodied male citizen of Switzerland is conscripted into the military at age 20 for a tour of mandatory duty (women may also volunteer), and soldiers are required to keep their weapons nearby even if they're at home. This is a country where most citizens have ready access to real militarily useful guns, and the training to use them. And they're worried about Doom?

    Is there a Swiss equivalent of Jack Thompson or something?

    • Every able-bodied male citizen of Switzerland is conscripted into the military at age 20 for a tour of mandatory duty (women may also volunteer), and soldiers are required to keep their weapons nearby even if they're at home. This is a country where most citizens have ready access to real militarily useful guns, and the training to use them. And they're worried about Doom?

      Maybe near-universal access to high-powered firearms is one of the reasons for their worry?

      I am not making a judgement call, just that, based on that argument, you could see it either way.

  • The government is against it.

    The parliament however has approved two laws: one which forbids the sale of 18+ games to minors, and another one that forbids the sale of "violent" games completely.

    How this doesn't mean yet that the laws come into effect just like that. Instead a lengthy process starts to sort out the details. I do not think it will really lead to a complete ban on violent games.

    As the government has already pointed out, just to define and judge what a violent game is, a federal level authority

    • The title of this article is bullshit an the contents in large parts. The journalist has apparently no clue what he/she is talking about and just aims to grab attention with a grossly wrong article.

      Baki is correct, there are proposals under way to create a new law. Among them an extreme 'full ban'. The likely outcome is something 'eurocompatible', e.g. similar to what the other countries (France, Germany) do.

      Markus

  • In other news, piracy of violent video games in Switzerland is up 12000%.

  • There goes the whole franchised violent video games tourneys in Swiss minarets with the local bankers sending corroborating info to the IRS/DHS business model. Back to the drawing board.

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