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June 18, 2019
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The Bizarre Ways That Your Video Game Can be Banned

by Michael Smith on 04/30/18 06:12:00 pm

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


I’ve never been one for controversy. Call me a wuss, but I’ve always liked to play it safe, lest the hours of development and countless thousands of dollars I pumped into a game go down the drain because it is banned from a major platform. However, I’ve always liked to play those sort of games, maybe because a small part of me wants to see how far the envelope can be pushed and what developers can get away with.


Sometimes, as was the case with the GTA series, controversy even helps the game. But there are times when it doesn’t, when stupid reasons and over vigilant advisory boards cause decent games to be banned for no good reason.


A Legal Loophole


There was a time when playing any video game in public in Greece was against the law. It didn’t matter if you were playing Grand Theft Auto or Tetris, it was technically illegal. The law was rarely (if ever) enforced, but it existed, and it existed because of one stupid oversight.


Basically, the Greek government wanted to ban gambling games, but the people writing the law into effect didn’t really understand the video game industry, or seemingly how games worked. They botched the wording and made it so that all video games were illegal if they were played in a public place.


Known as Law 3037/2002, it was passed in 2002. To make matters even worse (and infinitely more insane) they clarified the law a year later, but still kept the part about video games being illegal. Not until 2011 was this repealed, with gamers finally able to take part in LAN parties and other public gaming events without worrying about Big Brother.


The Tibet Issue


Tibet and China have a long and somewhat troubled issue, to put it incredibly lightly. China don’t recognize it as a country, while others insist otherwise. And China are pretty serious about this, taking it as a personal affront if anyone dares suggest that Tibet is its own country and not part of the People’s Republic of China.


The hugely popular soccer management sim, Football Manager, fell foul of this anger in 2005 when they launched the latest edition of their game and dared to make Tibet its own country. As anyone who has ever played FM will know neither China nor Tibet has ever gotten a starring role. In fact, you can play it for 50+ hours and never encounter the Chinese national team. But China were still angry about this and they banned the game until the creators re-released it without showing Tibet as it’s own country.


We Can’t Go Giving Them Ideas


Apparently, the game Homefront, which is about a North Korean invasion of the United States, was supposed to be about China. It makes sense, on account of the fact that North Korea couldn’t successful raid an ice cream parlor, let alone the richest country on earth. The publishers just didn’t want to anger the Chinese and because it’ a growing market, they figured they should also target it.


But to make this story even more bizarre, the game was banned in South Korea. No official story was given, but I’m just going to assume that they didn’t want those pesky northerners to go getting any ideas. Because if any half-assed leader is going to take their war plans from a video game, it’ll be that one.


Because… Nazis


People with bad pasts don’t like owning up to those pasts. This is as true of Weinstein and Bill Cosby, currently spending their millions on sex crimes defense lawyers and regretting ever believing the motto that “there is no such thing as bad PR”, as it is of Germany. Or so the Germans believe, because they have banned a succession of games about the Nazis simply because they didn’t appreciate exposing that side of their history to their own populace.


If you’ve ever been to Germany you’ll know that it is a beautiful country and one that is fully understanding of its past. It has tried to learn from this and teaches future generations to avoid it. But at the same time, they don’t appreciate being the bad guys in 80% of FPS games out there, which is why they didn’t take too kindly to games like Wolfenstein.


Virtual Eggs in Temples


India is a vast and beautiful country. They produce amazing tea, they have beautiful structures, a great cuisine and epic festivals, but they are also very strict when it comes to religion. To an extent, this is understandable, but not when it led to the banning of Pokemon Go because Pokemon eggs were found in sacred temples.


Seriously, that’s why they banned it, saying these eggs, virtual or not, were offensive to their religious beliefs.

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