Violent Video Game Controversy Rages in Switzerland

There appears to be quite a video game controversy raging in Switzerland.

SCEE president David Reeves hinted as much during an ELSPA meeting with Dr. Tanya Byron two weeks ago: 

This [violent video game] debate goes on in every European country and in Switzerland it’s at the top of the agenda for every political party. It’s a major hot potato…

Longtime GP reader Soldat Louis, who lives in Europe, has helped us fill in the blanks regarding the Swiss video game situation with this timely report:

I’ve just learnt that in Bern, Switzerland, there is a double controversy about video games. First: Roland Näf, a (left-wing) representative wants to ban violent video games totally (he started his crusade in March).

Second: there was a game-related double murder last week. Well, when I say “game-related”, it’s just because the murderer’s friends declared to the press that he was a fan of [unspecified] “violent games”…

Soldat Louis also provided a link to the Not Quite Here blog, where a March entry offers more details on what politician Roland Näf has gotten up to regarding games:

European customer electronics retailer Media Markt was sued by a Swiss politician for selling John Woo’s Stranglehold. To be more precise, Roland Näf sued the manager of a local branch of Media Markt…

Now, the reason Mr. Näf is doing this is that he wants to see how effective this law is when used against video games. He states that Swiss law isn’t strict enough in that respect…

So Mr. Näf wants to ban [violent] video games from being produced or sold at all… Actually, he already tried to change the law but was turned down by the parliament. They said that the law as it is now was good enough and that no connection between video games and violent minors was evident.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. 0
    piepiecool says:

    Ok, just because some idiots are saying games are bad does not mean its true. If some violent thing happens that a kid does, and he blams it on a vidio game, does not mean its true. They could have been using it as a scape goat. Its not like people dont lie all the time. Plus, im under 13, i play halo 3 and halflife 2. Do I go on rampages with guns? no, i dont. its pretty clear that violent vidio games do not have a big affect. The thing is, the last genaration grows up playing pacman. This genaration, grows up playing call of duty 4 and assasins creed. The last gen gets freaked out and says its to violent.

  2. 0
    Abnaxos ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I’m living in Zürich, too, so we can’t be to far from each other. The point is: Currently, there’s *nothing*, that stops a 9-year-old boy from buying and playing e.g. Scarface, here in Switzerland. I think, anyone, who played this, no matter, in which country, will agree, that this is not right. Then again, this proposal, to ban all of such games completely, isn’t right neither. As I said: As long, as it’s not in the media (which it currently isn’t), there’s no way, to get people to sign a request for a referendum. We’ve just seen it with the referendum against the so-called “Swiss DMCA”, which miserably failed at about 300 signatures. So we, the gamers, should get active now. (I’m 32 years old, BTW, if anyone asks)

    Video games simply aren’t included in our legislation and they aren’t regarded as part of the culture, especially not by the politicians, who look at them as very brutal child’s games.

    They *are* part of the culture. And many people, who are playing those games, started that more than 20 years ago, in my case, it was, when my parents bought me an Amiga 500. Some people did not stop to play video games, and they are now adult. So stop talking about “kid’s play.” Too many people just don’t get this point and keep talking about “child’s play.”

  3. 0
    PH ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I kinda made my Gymnasium description vague. Basically, Swiss education is waaaaaaaay different from the U.S. after elementary, ang Gymnasium is College prep. A lot of swiss kids go to american or international schools, which run like schools do in the U.S.

  4. 0
    PH ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I lived in Zurich for 5 years (recently, until last year). The Storekeepers there are fucking ridiculous. You’re 16? Sorry, doesn’t matter if you’re parents are with you, you can’t get into a 17 plus film. There’s a huge double standard with the government there: They try to make parents independent, yet insist on telling them how to parent. This happens with games too; 13 year olds cannot buy WoW (I believe it’s rating was 14) without their parents or guardian. Yeah, PEGI seems useless, but at places like Jelmoli and Manor (two downtown Zürich’s massive department stores) they actually enforce it. What’s worse is the other rating system, which I can’t remember the name of, which is basically a yellow stop sign with German that no foreigner could read (I remember seeing American kids who had jut moved to Zurich who were ten telling their parents 16 rated games were actually rated 6 plus) and is horribly useless in that there are two numbers written with digits surrounded by German and they are extremely small so nobody notices them. I believe games that have the same French as Swiss/German versions use PEGI (this is many games, they have several language options usually), and I have no idea where the other system comes from.

    Also, the compulsory military service, for those unsure, is just for native born swiss males. It comes after High school , but has some exceptions if you are in Gymnasium (not an athletics class, google it, its basically grade 13). Don’t know why some sociopath skinny boy hasn’t sued someone for sexism by making boys do it but not girls. When you think about it, that lawsuit have been filed thousands of times by now here in the U.S.

  5. 0
    LoopyChew ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Okay, now that I’ve read through the comments, what Abnaxos is saying is probably the problem; it definitely ain’t “ragin’.” As I said, I’ve heard nothing of it, but considering all I read when I do are small circulars like “20 Minutes” and “Le Matin Bleu” and see the headlines of other newspapers, I wouldn’t have been surprised if it existed and got beneath my radar, unless it was The Issue of the Day.

    Actually, I didn’t realize that PEGI ratings are on Swiss boxes until Abnaxos pointed it out. Guess I have a lot to learn…

  6. 0
    Monkeythumbs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Abnaxos

    Thanks for contributing, very informative. I hope Dennis read that too. It seems more and more that the only place in Europe really kicking up a stink about games is bloody Germany, where their attitude seems to be “YOU VILL PROTEKT ZE KINDER OR YOU VILL BE DEZTROYED!!”, to quote a D’toid caption.

  7. 0
    Abnaxos ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I live in Switzerland and I have to correct this a bit:

    Yes, it’s true, there is an initiative. It’s been launched by the parliament of Bern with a great majority, which is actually quite disturbing. Roland Näf did file a trial against Media Markt, but he did this on his own, to make his point.

    So, what’s going to happen next? Sorry, I don’t know, how to translate all this into English. But actually, all that’s happened, is, that politicians are now forced to discuss this topic. There are two chambers, who need to find a common legislation about this. They’ll fight each other, I can assure you: It’ll take a looooong time. In the end, there might be some proposal for a new law, or not. If there is, the people may or may not take the referendum (sorry, I have no idea, how to translate this into english).

    The problem at this point (if it gets that far) may be, that the media are completely ignoring this discussion. There is no “raging controversy” about this, not at all. Also, it’s completely new to me, that this double murder has been linked to video games. There was another double-murder in Switzerland in January 07, that *german* media linked to Final Fantasy. No word about that here, though.

    Talking about ratings in Switzerland seems, however, to be a good thing. Because currently, we’ve got *nothing*. Just by accident, there are those PEGI prints on the game boxes, but they actually have no meaning. Changing this might be a good idea.

    However, this thrust wants to ban 18+ rated games completely. This initiative is pretty harsh, to say the least, and it will be forced to be discussed, but it won’t get through like this.

    Well, saying all this, there’s a big problem: You titled “Controversy Rages in Switzerland”. No, this controversy is NOT raging! It’s very quiet here about this. Which also means, that taking the referendum would be very difficult, if it got actually through.

    On the other hand, discussing this isn’t a bad thing. We’ve got no regulation at all, here, PEGI is just a recommendation, no obligation at all. It might be a good idea to regulate that a bit more.

    Again: Unfortunately, this discussion is not “raging”, it’s going on under the hoods …

  8. 0
    Sune says:

    Justitiekanslern(goverment agency) tried to prosecute the head of the company that distributed postal 2 here in sweden back in 2006 for distribution of illegal depiction of violence but the case was dismissed. Parlament also didnt pass a lowering of value added tax for videogames from 25% to 6%. So we have some problems for gamers in Sweden. I wonder if there will be controversy over drunk driving missions in gta 4 though.

  9. 0
    Josh ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Wait, this can’t be real, I thought only us conservative, gun-clinging American prudes tried to ban video games?? There’s just no way that a socialist politician would try to take away the rights of common citizens! This must be a propaganda piece from Fox news!

  10. 0
    Fred says:

    GRIZZAM 512 – I’d bump up Sweden a notch cause buying stuff in Norway’s expensive as hell :d ( for example a McDonald menu costs like 20 dollars there).

  11. 0
    mogbert ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The part I don’t understand is what he is doing…

    Store sells violent games.
    He sues store.
    If he LOSES the law suit, that is supposed to prove the laws aren’t strict enough?

    Maybe he could lose the lawsuit for being wrong? Or is that just not possible?

    Great logic, John Bruce Näf…

  12. 0
    TheBird says:

    most kids these days usually have an FPS on their list of top 10 favorite games

    does that mean all kids are future murderers?

    the DOOM generation is grown up now, and all i see in a DECREASE in crime levels

    the swiss government is wise for telling the guy to **** off. we need this kinds of stuff to happen here

  13. 0
    -Jes- ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    + Because FF cut off half of my post?!?

    Point in case; The videogame “debate” isn’t a hot potato. It’s a SCAPEGOAT for political feelgood nannystate vote-pandering.

    Any political party that participates in it with an opinion other than “games are a result, not a cause” is directly pushing a selfish agenda for power.

  14. 0
    -Jes- ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “This [violent video game] debate goes on in every European country”

    I can’t stress how much of a LIE this is..

    I’ve yet to hear a politician from my nation even MENTION computergames in a negative association.

  15. 0
    Simon Roberts ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Finally! A socialist who can cross the partisan gap on the violent gaming issue! If you can’t push your agenda through the legislative system, file a lawsuit, right?

    I somewhat agree with Canary: the real story here is that the rest of Swiss government is sensible enough to tell this guy to take off. I wish we had more instances of that on this side of the Atlantic.

  16. 0
    Nash ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    A Leftist wants to ban videogames?

    Damn to the left!! i kid of course..

    But who in Switzerland would take this seriously? Videogames and videogamers are big there just because of one incident it dont mean you have to ban the entire genre of entertainment.

    Its just a case of getting more votes using underhanded tactics and nothing more.

    Plus the guy’s pic creeps me out.

  17. 0
    Meagan says:

    I play video games all kinds and genres. I would be very peeved if my government tried to take them away. Its not like every person who plays a video game is going to shoot someone. Seriously they r going to have issues if that ever went through.

  18. 0
    StealthKnight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I have to say that Roland Näf looks very deranged in the link to his bibliography. Roland will have to do a lot more then just sue a manager of a game store to prevent games from reaching children. He will have to prove with a lot of facts, that video games can harm kids. Then he will have to prove that the majority video game stores are giving these games out to kids. he will have to use the worst case in order to prove that the stores are provide games that harm children, to children.

  19. 0
    GRIZZAM 512 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Damnit, Switzerland was one of the places I was gonna flee to if Hillary became president.
    #1 Norway
    #2 Sweden
    #3 Switzerland

  20. 0
    JustChris says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t Switzerland require that every male go through some basic military training when they reach an adult age? It’s how they all get experience with firearms (and yet little crime happens) and why they kick ass in fighting off foreign invaders. The Swiss know how to handle their guns. They don’t need any wimpy anti-violence laws.

Leave a Reply