Venezuela: Violent Games Banned, Internet Censorship Next?

March 15, 2010 -

As a result of a Venezuelan website falsely reporting the death of a senior government minister, the Internet has now draw the ire of the South American country’s president Hugo Chavez.

The Venezuelan website NoticieroDigital erroneously reported the death of Chavez’s fellow United Socialist Party member, and former President (for a day), Diosdado Cabello. The misreported news languished on the site for two days, further angering El Presidente, according to a Reuters report.

In what is perhaps the quote of the day, Chavez stated, “The Internet cannot be something open where anything is said and done.”

The President continued, saying, “We have to act. We are going to ask the attorney general for help, because this is a crime. I have information that this page periodically publishes stories calling for a coup d'etat. That cannot be permitted.”

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Venezuela Reportedly Enacts Violent Game Ban

March 8, 2010 -

A law introduced last year that would ban violent videogames and toys in Venezuela was enacted last Wednesday, according to various news sources.

Under the law, importers, producers, distributors or sellers of the banned toys and games could face fines and jail time ranging from two to five years. In a story dated March 3, Prensa Latina reported that the law had been passed.

The law, when initially proposed to Venezuela’s National Assembly, proposed that the country’s consumer protection society be granted full power in determining what games and toys were deemed violent, though no indication was given into what criteria might be used to judge the goods.

As it was drawn up, the law also featured provisions for teaching crime prevention classes in school, public campaigns to warn about the dangers of videogames. A government campaign to promote games that taught children “respect for an adversary” was also included, though no word on if this, or any, additional provisions were a part of the new law.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is apparently not a big fan of videogames as witnessed by an outburst earlier this year in which he labeled the PlayStation as “poison.” The ban on violent games and toys is apparently seen as a way to somehow combat crime and violence in the country.

An Overseas Security Advisory Council report on Venezuela had this to say about the country's level of violence:

The U.S. Department of State has rated Venezuela a critical threat country for crime.  The capital city of Caracas has been named murder capital of the world by many experts and that violence extends to the entire country.  Murder, kidnappings, armed robberies, carjackings and residential break-ins occur with impunity and perpetrators are rarely brought to justice.

While officially banned, handguns are readily available and a common sight throughout Venezuela.  Armed robberies occur in broad daylight including areas frequented by tourists.


|Via SlashDot and Cheater 87|

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Chavez: PlayStation is Poison

January 18, 2010 -

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez recently took to his weekly radio show to lambast videogames.

Chavez called Sony’s PlayStation console “poison” adding that, “Some games teach you to kill.” Continuing his rant, Chavez said that games which feature players bombing cities or throwing bombs were being sold by capitalist countries in order to spark violence so that such countries could later sell more weapons.

Western countries also promote drugs, alcohol and cigarettes according to El Presidente, further leading people down the “road to hell,” or capitalism.

Chavez suggested that Venezuelan should be churning out educational games.

In October, Venezuela’s parliament gave the go-ahead to a ban on videogames that grants the country’s consumer protection society full power in determining what titles would be outlawed in the South American country.

Thanks Santiago!

Updated: Edited the third paragraph for accuracy. Chavez, it appears, was referring to capitalistic society when referring to the promotion of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, not games. Thanks Soldat_Louis.

29 comments

Venezuelan Game Ban Okayed, Gamer Reacts

November 5, 2009 -

Venezuela’s parliament has approved a law that lumps in toy weapons with videogames and bans the import, production or sale of both groups of items within the country.

The law was approved late last week and will go into effect within three months, reports Russian news agency Ria Novosti. The law features strict penalties of up to three to five years of incarceration for each offense. Previous reports also claimed that campaigns would be launched to warn about the dangers of videogames and that Venezuela’s consumer protection society would have full decision making abilities over what games to ban.

On BoingBoing, a 26-year old Venezuelan gamer named Guido Núñez-Mujica has penned an article detailing his distaste for the new law, even in the face of government harassment that could emerge from his public denouncement.

A few excerpts:

This law makes selling video games to anybody actually worse than giving real guns or cigarettes to a minor, or even forcing him or her to work, as you get less jail time and lower fines if you do any of those things.

These games are a cherished part of my life, they helped to shape my young mind, they gave me challenges and vastly improved my English, opening the door to a whole new world of literature, music and people from all around the world. Now, thanks to the tiny horizons of the cast of morons who govern me, thanks to the stupidity and ham-fisted authoritarianism of the local authorities, so beloved of so many liberals, my 7 year old brother's chances to do the same could be greatly impacted.

But I'd rather go to jail than betray the gamer culture, partially responsible for making me the person I am today.

36 comments

Vote on Venezuelan Game Ban Looming

October 5, 2009 -

Venezuela’s National Assembly, at the behest of President Hugo Chavez, will vote in the next few weeks on whether or not to enact a ban on violent videogames.

The proposed legislation received initial approval in September and would grant the country’s consumer protection society full power in determining what titles would be banned. The law would encompass violent toys as well as games, and could result in fines as high as $128,000.

The Associated Press also reports that the bill would further order crime prevention classes to be taught in schools, campaigns to warn about the dangers of videogames and would require the government to promote games that teach children “respect for an adversary.”

The article also notes that “the country's thriving market for pirated video games will likely be untouched by the law.”

21 comments

Facing Crime Wave, Venezuela Moves to Ban Violent Video Games

August 27, 2009 -

While Venezuela has been the (unwilling) setting for at least one violent video game (Mercenaries 2: World in Flames), lawmakers there are moving ahead with plans to ban violent games and toys.

The effort, reports Reuters, is aimed at reducing an unprecedented wave of crime and violence. According to Reuters, dozens of people are murdered in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas every week.

A measure detailing the proposed ban passed Venezuela's National Assembly this week. In order to become law, the game ban bill would need to be voted on a second time and then signed into law by President Hugo Chavez.

If passed, the video game ban would not be the first time that the Venezuelan government has targeted a form of media in response to social issues. In 2008 the government banned The Simpsons as unsuitable for children.

36 comments

EA's Free Gas Stunt Angers Politician, Police, Local Residents

September 5, 2008 -

A member of Great Britain's Parliament had harsh words for Electronic Arts after a marketing stunt for Mercenaries 2 gridlocked her district during the morning rush hour.

Hoping to draw attention to the game, EA gave away £20,000 of fuel at a station in North London. The Telegraph reports on the ensuing traffic jam:

A petrol station which gave away free fuel has been temporarily shut down after motorists flocking to its pumps caused traffic chaos...

 

Norman Tidiman, from Hackney... said: "I saw a girl who stopped because she wasn't going to make the lights, and the man in the car behind her got out his car and started to bully her.

 


Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone (left) was not pleased with EA:

Whilst a lucky few might have got some free petrol, hundreds of local residents have faced misery on their daily journeys this morning. They deserve an apology for being the victims of such an ill-thought out media stunt...

 

Trying to recreate Venezuelan-style fuel riots on the streets of London is completely irresponsible and downright dangerous...

An EA rep told the Telegraph that police ultimately shut the event down as too disruptive. Mercs 2, of course, is set in Venezuela, where petroleum is a huge economic force. As in a similar event held in Los Angeles last week, the station was decorated to match the theme of the game.

The BBC has more, including a video report.

Will Mercs 2 Release Rekindle Venezuelan Outrage?

August 30, 2008 -

Reuters speculates that tomorrow's release of Mercenaries 2: World in Flames will renew past controversies surrounding the game's setting in Venezuela. From Reuters:

A video game depicting mercenaries storming Venezuela, which has been criticized in the oil-rich South American country as a blueprint for an invasion, will be released by a U.S. company this weekend.

 

The release is likely to anger allies of President Hugo Chavez, a Washington foe, who has in the past threatened to cut off oil exports to the United States.

However, as GamePolitics has previously reported, developer Pandemic made changes to the long overdue Mercs 2 in an apparent effort to appease Venezuelan concerns. EA spokesman Jeff Brown downplayed the political impact of the game:

All the controversy around this is kind of comical. At the end of the day you have to remind yourself it's a damned video game.

In 2007, an international group of religious leaders petitioned Bono, a Pandemic investor, to make the game less menacing to Venezuelans.

An EA press release for Mercs 2 touts the game's "massive, fully destructible Venezuela."

35 comments

Venezuelan Group Celebrates Delayed Release, Changes to Mercs 2

October 3, 2007 -

A group calling itself the Venezuela Solidarity Network has issued a press release celebrating news that Pandemic's Mercenaries 2: World in Flames has been pushed from EA's holiday release schedule.

According to the GameStop website, Mercs 2 is now set for a February, 2008 launch.

In March, the VSN petitioned Bono, a major Pandemic investor, to block release of Mercs 2, claiming it would deepen existing tensions between the U.S. and Venezuelan governments. Said Gunnar Gundersen, who coordinated the protest:
 

I wouldn’t want my sons to buy it and blow up neighborhoods that we can clearly recognize where their cousins, aunts and uncles live.  Still, at least the villain is no longer a Hugo Chavez look alike and the story line no longer mirrors actual international politics.


Chuck Kaufman, another spokesman for the group, added:

Group Petitions Bono to Cancel Mercs 2 Over Venezuelan Missions

March 23, 2007 -

As reported by GameSpot, a group calling itself the Venezuelan Solidarity Network has called on U2 frontman, activist and investor Bono to stop production of Pandemic's upcoming Mercenaries 2: World in Flames.

Bono, of course, is a principle with venture capital firm Elevation Partners, a major investor in Pandemic/Bioware Studios. As described by GameSpot's Tim Surette:
 

(Mercs 2) follows guns for hire as they help topple a "power hungry tyrant" in Venezuela. While no real names are used, protestors see the plot as a clear parallel to the Unites States' troubled relationship with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, and are labeling the shooter as anti-Venezuela propaganda.


The Venezuelan Solidarity Network is collecting support and signatures from a variety of religious leaders urging the cancellation of Mercs 2. A letter from the group says:

 
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Sleaker@Technogeek - How do you call someone out that anonymously calls in a SWAT team, or sends threats to people?09/20/2014 - 7:04pm
Technogeek"It also doesn't mean you're obligated to stop harassment from all gamers that are doing so." I'd say you're certainly obligated to call them out when you see it happening.09/20/2014 - 5:17pm
SleakerNow if you disagree with anything in my last 2 posts then we obviously have a difference in world view, and wont come to any sort of agreement. I'm fine with that, maybe some people aren't?09/20/2014 - 5:09pm
SleakerIt also doesn't mean that just because a news outlet says that Gamers are the problem and you self-identify as a Gamer, you're immediately the problem. It also doesn't mean you're obligated to stop harassment from all gamers that are doing so.09/20/2014 - 4:59pm
SleakerJust to re-iterate: People getting harassed is wrong. Just because someone is harassed by so called 'gamers' doesn't mean that all gamers are bad. nor does it mean that you need to pass laws or judgement on all gamers.09/20/2014 - 4:56pm
SleakerAnd furthermore just because someone doesn't 'crusade against the evil' that doesn't make them the problem. You can have discussion with those around you. There's a thing called sphere of influence.09/20/2014 - 4:54pm
Sleaker@Conster - one person getting harassed is a 'problem' only so far as the harassee's are doing it. Just because a select few people choose to act like this doesn't make it widespread. Nor does it immediately make everyone responsible to put an end to it.09/20/2014 - 4:54pm
james_fudgeno worries09/20/2014 - 4:15pm
TechnogeekI misread james' comment as "we can't have a debate without threatening" there at first. Actually wound up posting a shout about death threats and "kill yourself" not technically being the same thing before I realized.09/20/2014 - 3:59pm
james_fudgeDon't hit me *cowers behind Andrew*09/20/2014 - 3:20pm
ConsterYou take that back right now, james, or else. *shakes fist menacingly*09/20/2014 - 3:00pm
james_fudgeOur community is awesome. We can have a debate without threatening to kill each other.09/20/2014 - 2:50pm
Andrew EisenNo one's crossed a line but I just want to remind you all to keep discussions civil.09/20/2014 - 1:54pm
Craig R.tldr: I'm a gamer, and imo those who support GamerGate should feel free to take a flying leap off a cliff.09/20/2014 - 1:27pm
Craig R.Not only that, I'm pretty sure that if actual studies were done, you'd still deny them, Sleaker. After all, it's not what you'd want to hear to support your rose-colored view of GamerGate.09/20/2014 - 1:18pm
Craig R.There IS an issue. Nor do we need a study to show that if you deny it then you're part of the problem.09/20/2014 - 1:17pm
Sleakersimply oust people that do harass others.09/20/2014 - 11:34am
Sleaker@Conster - I can say the same thing if you think there's been more than a handful. Until there's an actual study on rates no one can claim to know how widespread the incidence of harassment is. Thus the best we can do is 'there might be an issue' and...09/20/2014 - 11:33am
ConsterSleaker: if you think there's only been "a handful of" incidents, you have your head stuck *somewhere* - I'm assuming it's sand.09/20/2014 - 5:38am
prh99Most of it's agitprop clickbait anyway.09/20/2014 - 5:27am
 

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