The government of Venezuela is taking steps to ban violent videogames as part of an attempt to combat out-of-control crime in the country.
Violent crime in Venezuela has exploded over the past decade, to the point that the murder rate in the capital city of Caracas has become one of the highest in the world, surpassing even notorious locales like Mexico City and Bogota, Colombia. Dozens of people are killed in the city every week, according to a Reuters report, and over 100,000 have been murdered since President Hugo Chavez took office in early 1999. Assaults, robberies and kidnappings are also common.
In response, the government has introduced a bill to ban violent videogames and toys. The bill has already passed a first round of voting in the National Assembly, but must pass a second vote and then be signed by Chavez before it becomes law. A date for the second vote has not yet been set, nor is there any indication that what will constitute a “violent videogame” has been defined.
I don’t want to turn this into a discussion about the relative merits of the Chavez regime but attacking videogames as a root cause of crime in Venezuela is obviously scapegoating. The country is struggling with some very deep-seated issues and while railing against the evils of games – most of which are probably portrayed as Yankee games – on Aló Presidente might make for some fiery rhetoric, it does absolutely zip to address any real problems.