The question of violence in video games has lead to concern from parents and policy makers throughout the world for years. However, few people are aware of the drastic steps officials in Greece have taken to ensure video games do not perpetuate any perceived or actual danger. In 2002, a total video game ban occurred in Greece.
This video game ban was detrimental to arcade owners wishing to stay within the confines of Greek law. Internet cafes were also affected and were forced to shut down, however, the video game ban does not stop citizens and foreigners alike from presently using these cafes to continue gaming. Although the cafes are technically facilitating others in contradicting the video game ban, no internet cafe has yet to be punished because of these actions. The bill itself was rather convoluted; it is possible there are loop holes or specifications in the video game ban in Greece which allows such operations to generally avoid investigation.
Why would Greece opt to adopt a video game ban? Officials were concerned that video games, especially video gaming that took place in public areas such as Internet cafes and arcades, was leading to preventable illegal gambling. However, the video game ban made no distinction between interactive gaming, the types of video games on which people would generally gamble, and individual gaming, the types of gaming which generally implies solitaire or minesweeper.
The law makes anyone susceptible to arrest regardless of where they choose to game, though policy makers reported that they would only be interested in gamers who engage in video games in public places. Anyone playing games at home, although violating the video game ban, would not be bothered. Likewise, importing gaming consoles and games was reportedly not an area of concern. Therefore, it is only those who play video games publicly who had to worry.
However, as the Greek Internet Cafe Union pointed out, the law still affects thousands of jobs. Some have criticized the video game ban as being comparable to blocking political sites in China, only more ridiculous. Furthermore, the Greek video game ban actually lead to a few people being arresting and facing heavy fines.
Originally, some officials wondered if the Greek video game ban was in accordance to European law. Though the video game ban in Greece did not technically violate any specific law stipulated by the European Court of Justice, the court did send an letter of reply to the Greek government, explaining that there was a huge controversy pertaining to the video game ban and that ultimately the Court, while not prohibiting the law, disproved. To keep face and retain the ability to easily arrest those partaking in illegal video game gambling, Greece kept their video game ban, but remained incredible lenient about the matter. Essentially, the ban is ignored unless someone in Greece becomes rowdy about video games or people begin to publicly gamble.