First, the Russians wanted a national game engine, then their Electronic Arts equivalent. Now, the government is trying to achieve a ban list.
The commission investigating the matter wants to prevent “malicious software and banned content” from harming Russian youth. According to Kommersant, the Russian government has tasked the Prosecutor General’s Office and several ministries with protecting children from “negative influences.” The commission says that many unnamed popular video games have “hidden inserts” and “ways of spreading information that affect one’s consciousness and subconscious ” and therefore recommends a system of registers of approved and banned games, under which all games released in Russia would first be checked by one of the country’s “autonomous non-profit organizations,” the Competence Centre for Import Substitution in the ICT Sphere (TsKIKT), for “malware and banned content” and for “inserts with a high potential to affect the subconscious.” Ilya Massukh, former Deputy Minister of Telecommunications of Russia, heads the TsKIKT.
There have also been proposals to require parental control applications to be pre-installed on Russian computers and to create a catalog of “approved online games” that would function as an alternative to Google Play and the App Store, the country’s RuStore. These remain vague proposals, similar to the unconvicted piracy in Belarus. Russia’s recently expanded ban on “LGBT propaganda” could also be included. The government has plenty of leeways to use the law as a pretext to crush anything it doesn’t like.
Almost everyone interviewed by Kommersant said the proposals were doomed to fail. Experts say that if the measures are adopted, they will only bankrupt the already fragile Russian gaming industry. “Creating a list of right and wrong games […] will not force the public to play with Russian patriotic products,” said a director of the Centre for Strategic Research think tank (Russia) because “there aren’t any” Russian patriotic products to play with yet. Meanwhile, an intellectual property rights lawyer has concluded that players will torrent banned games.
Why does all this sound like a pig on ice?