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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Andrew EisenIf you do, I hope you can provide some examples of people (again, other than random no-name numbnuts on Twitter) who are genuinely trying to dictate what should and should not be allowed so far as themes, topics, language, plot devices, etc. go.07/01/2015 - 9:43am
MattsworknameI'd go into why I think it's a bigger problem then most realize, but nows not the time really. I'll catch up with everyone later07/01/2015 - 9:42am
Andrew EisenThat's the thing though, rarely is anyone (again, other than random numbnuts on Twitter) attempting to dictate what can and cannot be said or done.07/01/2015 - 9:39am
Andrew Eisen"Don't write rape scenes" is being offered as advice (along with reasons for that advice) not a mandate.07/01/2015 - 9:37am
MattsworknameOh, on that last one andrew I wasn't talking about the article, I was being more general, lately it seems like all the news and media is trying to decide what is and isn't proper to say. Thats what i was refering to.07/01/2015 - 9:37am
Andrew EisenPerhaps you should consider reading the entire article. Despite quotes you can pull from the intro and conclusion, the author isn't arguing that you can't or shouldn't be allowed to cover a certain topic.07/01/2015 - 9:35am
MattsworknameOne of the things I hate right now is that people are trying to be the deciders of what is and isn't proper to be said. It's political correctness to a level that makes me angry.07/01/2015 - 9:29am
Mattsworknamemake them, i just tell peopel that I think what they did sucked. Just cause I dont like what they did, doesn't mean I can tell them "You shouldn't wrtie that" cause thats just another step on the way to telling them "YOU CANT WRITE THAT".07/01/2015 - 9:24am
MattsworknameNo, but you or I aren't the one to tell someone else what they can or cannot do beyond EXTREMELY narrow limits. Telling a person then shouldn't write something or say something. I may hate certain movies or music, doesn't mean I dont' tell peopel not to07/01/2015 - 9:23am
E. Zachary KnightHasbro is taking steps to fix its Dinosaur gender issues. http://io9.com/the-jurassic-world-dinosaur-toys-are-clever-girls-again-171513589607/01/2015 - 9:20am
TechnogeekImagine that level of accuracy, only applied to something that has actually caused physiological and psychological trauma in more cases than just whatever the equivalent of the CD-i Zelda games would be.07/01/2015 - 8:40am
TechnogeekThat's the issue I see as well, E. To put it in terms anyone reading this site will likely understand: you know how any time video games show up on TV, they feature absurdly outdated 3D graphics and/or audio from the Intellivison era?07/01/2015 - 8:40am
InfophileWell, you CAN go to a crowded streetcorner and tell everyone who passes by your social security number and bank account PIN, but you shouldn't. Is that censorship?07/01/2015 - 8:36am
E. Zachary KnightSo if it is going to turn out to be a bad scene, why even bother writing it?07/01/2015 - 8:07am
E. Zachary KnightMatts, Goth, The article, and others I have read making the same conclusion, state that most people fail in their attempts to write rape scenes without being overly offensive or overly incompetent in their attempt.07/01/2015 - 8:07am
Adam802http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Ex-Sen-Leland-Yee-may-be-headed-for-a-plea-deal-6358941.php07/01/2015 - 7:12am
Adam802Possible plea deal in Yee case: http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_28408532/leland-yee-case-plea-deal-appears-likely07/01/2015 - 7:11am
MattsworknameInfo, Im with goth on this, the moment people start saying "You can but you shouldnt" thats a slow slide into censorship07/01/2015 - 6:05am
InfophileIn other words, you stopped when you found out it was arguing for a position you disagreed with, but before you found out why.07/01/2015 - 5:29am
Goth_Skunk"In short, anyone can write a rape scene—but should they? Chances are, the answer is no." And that's where I stopped reading.07/01/2015 - 5:11am
 

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