Switzerland So Neutral It Won't Even Let In Violent Video Games

from the overdoing-it-a-bit dept

An anonymous reader sends in word that Switzerland appears to be following in the footsteps of Venezuela by getting close to banning all violent video games in the country (yes, even for adults). It’s not quite there yet — as the Swiss National Council has basically just given itself the right to put in place such a ban, but is still debating the actual extent of the ban. However, it appears that many expect all video games rated at a mature or adult level will likely be banned. I’m curious why none of the countries that ban such video games are also willing to ban R-rated movies as well.

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Comments on “Switzerland So Neutral It Won't Even Let In Violent Video Games”

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29 Comments
Social Networking Software (profile) says:

Slippery Slope

Who gets to decide what is actually considered violent? If you listen to my grandmother play poppit you would assume she was playing an incrediably violent game. Is it the gore? The Killing? The Fights? In my opinion this is something that should be left up to the individual, the government should not have any part of it.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Slippery Slope

But we are protecting the children! Since you don’t agree with this ban, you must want to create violent offenders that harm children! What kind of person are you!

/sarcasm

The people that come up with this are clearly not thinking as rationally as you are. It’s really just amazing how many people seem to think this kind of thing is a good idea.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Slippery Slope

Agreed. As a kid I always thought it was funny how Mortal Kombat stripped out the blood from the home console versions – as if that changed the fact that the game was about brutally beating/dismembering/impaling/beheading each other. And then you used the cheat code to turn blood back on, but you didn’t even really notice or care, it was more for the satisfaction of knowing and using a cheat code.

Believe it or not, to this day I have never once shot a fireball or done a flying kick at anyone.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: To what end?

Not to mention, how can you possibly ban them? Oh, you can stop authorised dealers from selling them, but Switzerland isn’t a large country and it’s bordered by 4 countries that haven’t banned such games. Said borders do not have border controls – you can hop on a train to France, Germany, Austria or Italy, stock up on banned games and be back in a couple of hours. Even that’s assuming that the Swiss don’t simply download the games.

With this kind of issue, I always recall my childhood in the UK. The “video nasties” list was basically a shopping list of must-see titles, and I managed to buy pirated copies of nearly all of them – this being the 80s, where VHS was the only real option and I managed to get most of them sent by mail from Cyprus or Greece while under 16 years old! How in God’s name can you expect to effectively ban a game with today’s technology?

The only reason for this is a misguided “protect the children” stance, which will be ineffective since it’s often parents who are buying the games for their kids in the first place. Nice black market you’re creating there, Switzerland, I hope your police enjoy the pointless extra work you’re shovelling their way…

Hulser (profile) says:

Re: Re: To what end?

How in God’s name can you expect to effectively ban a game with today’s technology?

It’s precisely because of today’s technology that they will be able to ban video games. Sure, Switzerland’s borders are porous, but with much of today’s DRM requiring a connection (sometimes constant) to the game company servers, there will be pressure on the game companies to restrict access based on country of origin. DRM isn’t just a tool for protecting “IP”; it can also be used for censorship. Sure, this restriction can be easily circumvented, but the point is that the ban will have a dramatic effect on the freedoms of the Swiss.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: To what end?

“with much of today’s DRM requiring a connection (sometimes constant) to the game company servers”

*PC* games do. Most of the games being targeted will be on consoles which have no such DRM. Sure, you have to hack the console to play a pirated copy, but the Swiss authorities have just provided a great reason to do so.

Maybe such a tactic will be used in the next generation of consoles, but this is next to useless for the current gen.

Hulser (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 To what end?

I acknowledged that the DRM could be circumvented. I hope you’re not, but you seem to be implying that censorship is OK as long as it can be circumvented by the technically literate. The danger in this attitude, obviously, is that people don’t fight back when they have the chance (when a new law is being proposed) and when they figure out how to lock down the DRM even tighter, it’s already too late.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 To what end?

Erm, I don’t believe I’ve said a word supporting censorship. At least I hope not, because I sure as hell don’t…

My point was that said censorship is pretty pointless. I was able to circumvent it quite easily while living on an island, under the age of 16 in an era when the only way to distribute material was on a brick-sized piece of plastic that had to pass through customs. You described ways in which technology could be used to try and enforce the bans, I merely pointed out that this would not only be ineffective but also create a thriving black market, on and offline.

Of course I support efforts to fight said censorship, and hopefully it will fizzle out like the whole “video nasties” thing (most of those movies are now available on DVD in the UK, uncut). Meanwhile, Swiss citizens should fight this every step of the way.

Hulser (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 To what end?

*PC* games do. Most of the games being targeted will be on consoles which have no such DRM.

I’m not a console gamer, but don’t most big budget games require some kind of authentication to the central servers? Maybe even just to log into voice chat or to record your achievements? Maybe I’m defining DRM as little more loosely that you are, but I consider this as a form of DRM. Ostensibly, it’s adding value to your gaming experience, but there’s no denying that this kind of feature also gives quite a bit of control to the game company (or its publisher), the kind of control that can be used to censor a game.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 To what end?

I can see where you’re coming from but no, they’re not required to authenticate. You do need to access servers to play games online via official servers and to record achievements, but I think that a lot of gamers would be willing to give up perks if it means the difference between playing the game at all or not (I’m sure that unofficial servers can be set up for online play if needed – they exist for WoW so I assume they will exist for console games).

It’s still DRM, but it’s minimal and usually makes no difference to whether you can play the game once the console’s hacked. Again, this may change in future generations but there’s no way to stop a player using the current gen (and remember, DRM is typically removed from pirated copies of PC games, so it’s useless there as well).

Hulser (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 To what end?

You do need to access servers to play games online via official servers and to record achievements, but I think that a lot of gamers would be willing to give up perks if it means the difference between playing the game at all or not

But you’re making a distinction between official server and unofficial servers. So, let me qualify my original statement. Today’s DRM implemented in many PC and console games requires a connection (sometimes constant) to the game company’s official servers in order to play legally. This is what lead me to believe that you were implying that the censorship was OK because it could be circumvented. Or else why even bring up that it can be circumvented? What relevance does this have on the issue of whether it’s ethical or just for Switzerland to censor computer games?

Planespotter (profile) says:

The Swiss do make me chuckle… before long they’ll be giving every man over 18 a gun to keep at home to defend his country from the hoards of cheese eating, cuckoo clock loving waiting at the border… oh they already do that!

errr… maybe they’ll ban the building of minarets on Mosques… bugger!

Oh the Swiss… they just mad.

Rikuo (profile) says:

the irony

Well, lets look at what’s happening here.

The only argument I can see going for these kinds of bans is “protect the children” i.e. they see violence in a video game and think its okay to do it in real life. In video games, you for example pull a trigger and an enemy is dead.
What about kiddy cartoons like spongebob etc? Their violence is often much greater. There are explosions and such, and the characters are unharmed in the next scene. That can be interpreted as teaching kids that violence is okay, there are no consequences. Let’s blow up that bully who’s always picking on me! It’s all right, he’ll be magically unharmed in a few minutes.

D. says:

To what end?

And we will download them. At the time you wrote your comment, it was already decided that private copies – that is downloading something (video game, movie, song…) for your own enjoyment – were not illegal. Thus, nothing stops us from hopping on the pirate bay and just grab the titles.

Two years later, and the ban is still not in effect. There’s some discussion going on, and for now minors do not have the right to buy games 18+ (PEGI classification).

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