A new regulation on the protection of young gamers is in discussion. The Swiss Esports Federation represented the interests of the Swiss esports community within the first stage of the law-making process. The SESF supports the chosen path for youth protection. There is a need for clarification and caution when regulating the young esports community, however.
What is this about? Switzerland does not, currently, have federal standards on youth protection in the fields of film and video games. A new law – the „Bundesgesetz über den Jugend-schutz in den Bereichen Film und Videospiele (JSFVG)“ aims to set national guidelines on the theme of mental and physical health of underage gamers. The Swiss Esports Federation took part in the law consultation (the „call for feedback“ on the draft law by the federal administration), providing input on how to set up a regulation without destroying the drive of a fast emerging community.
What does this draft suggest in general? The law sets the rules and guidelines on youth protection, which the industry then implements autonomously (so called Ko-Regulation). The gaming industry is going to be obliged to run a youth protection organisation, that is going to be in charge of defining the implementation details, supervision and enforcement of the law.
Furthermore, a binding age indication and control system must be set up. PEGI, for example, currently, is no more than a proposal on how old one should be to play a game. With the JSFVG, an indication system like PEGI would be valid by law.
Why is esports affected by this law? This regulation plans restrictions on offline esports events like tournaments and LAN parties. Clear entry policy guidelines for events with games that are only suitable for players over the age of 16/18 years old will be put in place – with penalties if there is no effort to restrict the access to the area where the game is being played or showcased.
What is the opinion of the SESF? The federation fully agrees with the aim of the law to protect the integrity of minor gamers – it is a genuine interest of the SESF to protect young people from any harm while playing video games.
The chosen path of Ko-Regulation is a smart and suitable approach to answer the needs of a fast-driven community. With the law implementation in the hand of the industry we can make sure, the rules are going to be close to the reality and meaningful to reach the goal of youth protection – with reasonable efforts.
However, for the final draft of the law, we need more clarification on specific topics. For example, on the problem of offline vs. online tournaments: who is in charge for the age control online? To which extent? Another problem is the parental permission: is it enough to have a signed declaration to participate in an 18+ tournament as a minor? Such questions should be answered soon.
All in all, the SESF supports the direction of the new law and will accompany the path through the national Parliament, to ensure the voice of the Swiss esports community will be heard in Berne.
For more information on the Swiss Esports Federation’s position, read the consultation input.