Venezuela to jail violent-game merchants

National Assembly of Hugo Chavez-led country signs off on bill that would see purveyors of "war" games and toys face up to five years in prison.

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A number of states in the US have taken various steps to add restrictions or limit the sale of violent video games. However, thanks largely to the lobbying efforts of the Entertainment Software Association, state legislatures have yet to successfully keep a bill on the law books limiting or penalizing the sale of violent games.

Violent-game merchants may want to get out of Venezuela ASAP.
Violent-game merchants may want to get out of Venezuela ASAP.

Venezuela, however, is a different story. The Agence France-Presse reports that the National Assembly of Venezuela approved a law last week that would punish merchants who sell violent games with up to five years in prison. The law, which also outlaws the sale of toy weapons, is reportedly intended to "prevent the manufacture, importation, distribution, sale, rental and use of videos, games and war toys of a violent nature."

According to the report, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a vocal opponent of US foreign policy, has promoted the use of more traditional games, such as yo-yos. The AFP reports that President Chavez has previously railed against games and other electronic toys, saying they promote "egoism, individualism, and violence."

The Venezuelan government has previously taken issue with violent games, particularly Pandemic Studios' Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. In 2006, backers of President Chavez decried Electronic Arts and Pandemic's Mercenaries 2, a game set in Venezuela where players take on "a power-hungry tyrant" in control of the country. At the time, it was decried by one legislator as "a justification for imperial aggression."

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