Report: Russia Proposing Stricter Age Restrictions for Video Games and Web Sites

The Voice of Russia reports that Russia may adopt stricter age restrictions for videogames and websites soon. One of the biggest online companies in the region, Mail.Ru, has already begun labeling its games voluntarily. The company has already labeled its games with age restrictions on three of its gaming web portals: Games Mail.Ru and Mini-games Mail.Ru as well as the gaming center for its users. The restrictions are based on ratings standards developed by Russian regulators and European counterpart PEGI.

Oleg Shpilchevskiy, head of the Gaming division for Mail.Ru said that while the restrictions are not mandatory in Russia yet, the company decided to be proactive and offer players and their parents guidance.

"We think that this transparent approach is a basis for normal interaction between game developers and the players and we offer our colleagues to join us in voluntary labeling of their products," he told Voice of Russia.

Some of the concern from the Russian government is related to what's going on in Ukraine, and what it feels is anti-Russian pro-Nazi propaganda.

Russian State Duma deputy Oleg Mikheev recently proposed a bill which prohibits videogames that spread "war propaganda, national and religious hatred and strife." The bill calls for fines for distribution of these alleged "pro-Nazi games."

"The Ukrainian events have shown that comprehensive harsh punitive measures for crimes of indirect propaganda and justification of Nazism is a burning political issue," said Mikheev. "Such propaganda is being spread through seemingly innocent media – videogames. Their real agenda may be defamation of Russia’s historic past, its current status and creation of the country’s negative image for both foreign nationals and our compatriots. We need to fight that."

Other deputies like Vadim Dengin suggested that the new bill can "protect children and adolescents from anti-Russian propaganda." While he stressed that governmental regulation of videogames is needed, he also said that the final version would "take into consideration opinions of experts, such as gamers, psychologists and other specialists with knowledge of this issue."

A similar initiative aimed at websites is also in the works. The Federation Council has proposed introducing a harsher law forcing websites to mark their content, warning children and their parents of potentially harmful media. This includes media which uses "special tricks in order to affect the subconscious, causing disorders of moral, spiritual and psychological development." The law would also cover media which "provokes children to conduct anti-social and illegal actions and actions, potentially harmful to their life or health."

Source: Voice of Russia

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