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French Politician Seeks to Impose Regulation (Again)

A French politician is seeking to implement regulation on the video game industry, the last attempt of which was voted down by the government.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s the mantra of many a politician. It’s the very reason why many unpopular bills have eventually been approved. Our American readers will know this well, with bills like SOPA reappearing as CISA.

Whatever motive lies as the root cause, you can always be sure that an unsuccessful bill will likely return – often word for word. It looks as though France is no different in this regard. It now joins the rest of us in lamenting legislation that benefits the people.

You may remember back in January of this year, we wrote a piece regarding a piece of proposed legislation in France. The proposal sought to place a stranglehold on the French video game industry, financially punishing any developer who went against it. The controversial legislation—introduced by the French Parti Socialiste—specifically targeted tax credits, which incentivizes businesses to stay in France.

The bill was, rightly, shot down. Of course, as we’ve just discussed – that’s never the end. In an article written today by French publication Le Figaro, we can confirm that there has been an attempt to reintroduce these measures.

The government is considering several measures to fight against sexism in video games, including aid to work toward a positive image of women – Le Figaro

According to Le Figaro, the timing for this coincides with the legalization and recognition given to e-sports within the country. Axelle Lemaire (pictured below), the Secretary of Digital Affairs, used this opportunity to hold a session on sexism in video games. Ms Lemaire herself was involved with the now rejected amendment, which she herself filed.

As written in Le Figaro, there are a few reasons for this resurgence.

According to the piece, the video game industry is perceived as being “very masculine”. The post’s authors—Lucie Ronfaut and Chloe Woitier—attest that, “like other new technology industries, this sector employs few women” – a sentiment echoed by Ms Lemaire.

Gaming has had a strong movement in favour of women in studios for some time (…) within video games, in reaction to violent controversy on the subject on social networks – Axelle Lemaire

The violent controversy Ms Lemaire refers to is one that’s still ongoing, and one that many people will likely be familiar with.

GamerGate, a movement which many outlets claim to be a, “conservative and sexist movement,” is at the heart of Ms Lemaire’s points. Ms Lemaire’s opinion on GamerGate comes from her interest in Feminist Frequency, a feminist blog that caused controversy for failing to fulfill her Kickstarter goals.

According to Ms Lemaire, “France is at the forefront,” of this movement. Ms Lemaire cited a few accomplishments, particularly games which carry a “positive image of women”. These games included Beyond Good and Evil, Life is Strange and Dishonored 2 (which remains unreleased).

Ms Lemaire hopes to achieve her goals by, “[encouraging] the production of video games that promote equality.” This is a different approach to her first attempt, which sought to discourage the opposite. It’s a change in tactic, and one that likely has more chance of succeeding.

The NCC, through its [Fonds D’aide aux Jeux-video] (FAJV), might as well give financial bonuses to French games that would focus on diversity – Le Figaro

This would mean direct financial support for developers who adhere to its guidelines. Also, being considered is a labeling system that would distinguish games which fell under this arrangement, which would provide additional sales incentives. Conversely, games which did not meet these rules would be branded “discriminatory”.

This category would be given to games which portray various groups in a negative light, including minority religious and ethnic bodies.

According to Ms Lemaire, this would give the game an automatic rating of 18 by the PEGI (Europe’s version of the ESRB) ratings system. This would theoretically reduce sales, as the game could not be advertised in the normal fashion.

While the original amendment is gone, its ghost still haunts the French video game industry. The wording and intent may appear different on the surface, but unfortunately non-conforming developers will still be financially discouraged.

Whether this will go through or not remains to be seen, but there is certainly a push for it behind closed doors – and it seems they won’t be easily turned away.

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Thanks to SlainV for some help on the translation.

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