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Should online gaming be prohibited?

Friday, November 24, 2006

There is a good comment in this blog a few days ago, which responds to my post on the story of a gamer who killed his friend over a virtual sword. The commentator said:
Surely the whole point of the news story is that you must claim the enforcement of virtual items in the interests of public order. If the swords value had been enforced a man wouldn't have died. Surely the whole reason for the law is to settle disputes of exactly this nature.
The law might evolve into this direction. However, it may also evolve to the opposite direction: online games can be prohibited for the reason of public ordre.

Consider an actual case involving computer game in Germany:

A long-simmering debate in Germany about banning violent computer games is burning again after an aloof teenager on Monday stormed his former high school, shot five people and later killed himself. The disgruntled 18-year-old ex-pupil from Emsdetten, Germany, near the Dutch border, was described by students and teachers as a youth with no friends who liked guns and played violent computer shooting games.

Wiefelsp├╝tz isn't alone in the SPD. A majority of members in his party have been lobbying for months for major changes in federal laws aimed at protecting minors, including an outright ban on violent computer games. And the opposition parties Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) agree that changes are necessary to the current laws governing entertainment software. Following the shoot-out in Erfurt, the German government revised its legislation on protecting minors, requiring, for instance, that all computer games and video movies be subject to a mandatory age-rating plan.

There could be a case where online games are prohibited, through blocking software. The EU e-commerce directive exempts ISP from intermediary liabilities. However, it must response to a court or authority's order to secure, prevent or terminate illegal content on its server.