Greeks and Geeks 2514

Update 10/11/02: Since this article was written, a few things have happened. First, a local court ruled the law unconstitutional. Second, the responsible ministry brought out interpretive regulations which essentially told police
not to arrest people playing games.

If anyone is concerned about the long-term impact on tourism, there was virtually no response on this issue from the New World side of the Atlantic. There seems to have much more interest in this issue among European gamers.

(With all due apologies to the Eagles and their song “The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks” FYI, parody is a recognized fair use, see Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569.)

There was ouzo oozing the game floor
And the hall was playing hardcore blues
You got down and played the gamer, and then came the lamers,
who busted you down to the soles of your shoes

But the Greeks don’t want no Geeks
The Greeks don’t want no Geeks
If you want to have fun, just don’t go to Greece
‘Cause the Greeks Don’t Want No Geeks

She was the pride and the passion of Athens
She did exactly what her daddy had planned
She was perfect little sister until somebody missed
her and they found her busy pushin’ buttons on Ms. Pac-Man

But the Greeks don’t want no Geeks
The Greeks don’t want no Geeks
If you want to have fun, just don’t go to Greece
‘Cause the Greeks Don’t Want No Geeks

Your government don’t want no gamblin’
So they banned every possible tool
But if they think all gamblers like, betting on Counterstrike
Your government is just a hall full of fools

But the Greeks don’t want no Geeks
The Greeks don’t want no Geeks
If you want to have fun, just don’t go to Greece
‘Cause the Greeks Don’t Want No Geeks

The Greeks are the butt of enough jokes
And Pericles must wear a frown

That this silly government goof, just hands the whole world proof
That his beloved Athens is now run by clowns.

So get back online, a new place you must seek,

‘Cause the Greeks don’t want no geeks

No, the Greeks don’t want no geeks

Said, the Greeks don’t want no geeks

Just get back online, a new place you must seek

‘Cause the Greeks don’t want no geeks

No, the Greeks don’t want no geeks,


What’s This All About?

There are gaming arcades and the like in Greece. Some of these arcade games are being used for gambling purposes (which is something not unheard of in the USA, either).

I guess it’s too hard for the police to figure this out, so the Greek Parliament banned all gaming, public, private, Internet-based, you name it. Here’s an English translation of the law. You can see stories on this here and here.

I initially thought this might have been somebody getting overexcited about it, but this forum has posts from Greek gamers saying people are getting busted for playing Counterstrike and that gaming tournaments are being cancelled due to this new law.

Hitting Them Where It Hurts

In a word, tourism. Tourism accounts for 7-8% of the Greek GNP, and much more so in certain locales.

There’s no reason for the geek economy to fuel the Greek economy with a law like this on the books.

Indeed, even for non-geek tourists, the rather chilling effect this law is bound to have on Internet cafes could really cause people who have to stay in touch and don’t want to lug a computer around big problems.

So you might want to explain the facts of life to the Greek National Tourism Organization and tell them that this law makes it impossible for you to even think about including Greece in any trip and that you’ll make sure anyone you know thinking about such a trip about this knows, too.
Those who live in the United States can also send a message to the U.S. office.

While email addresses aren’t available for other countries, telephone and fax numbers sure are.

The press is even a better route to get governmental attention. Let’s face it, this is the kind of “man bites dog” story the media loves.

In the United States, embassy personnel will certainly look at the New York Times and/or Washington Post. Both papers have technology sections.

Don’t worry about TV. The best way to get this story on TV is to get an article about it in one of these papers. 🙂

If you have to choose between the two, I’d take the New York Times, simply because they have a bigger international section, and this is the kind of story they might put in the regular news section. You can email their foreign desk.

The Times also has a weekly technology section, and you might also write them, too. The Times also has a weekly travel section, here’s the email address to that.

The email address for the international section of the Post is here.

The Post tends to be more interested in local technology issues, but you could try this columnist.

The Associated Press is another good press place, since a story they put out ends up getting run in a lot of newspapers. You can send a note here.

For those of you who don’t live in the United States, go to the website of what is considered to be the most presigious newspaper in your country, and do the same. This is particularly important for Europeans and especially Northern Europeans to do since Northern Europeans are the most likely tourists to Greece.

For both Europeans and Americans, sending a comment to Reuters may not be a bad idea.

If You Really Want To Be A PITA

The next big tourism event in Greece will be the Summer Olympics in 2004. You can email the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee. Links to various national Olympic committees can be found here.

How To Write

You are writing a letter to responsible adults, who will judge you on what and how you write. An email message saying “greece sux” is not appropriate. Nor is “your all idiots because of that gaming lawr.” Emails like that won’t help; they’ll hurt.

So take a little more care writing this message. Capitalize the first word of each sentence. Use a spell checker. Be courteous; cursing and dire threats are completely unnecessary. Don’t lie, just say you won’t go there while that law is still there. Don’t say you run a tourist agency unless you actually do, that can be checked. Don’t say you can stop thousands of people from travelling; it’s not believable.

Something like this would be proper:

To the tourism authorities

Subject: Greek Anti-Computer Gaming Law

I was disturbed to read about NR 3037, which recently became law in your country. It effectively makes playing computer games, publicly or privately, a crime in your country.

Since I regularly play computer games, I’m afraid
this law makes it impossible for me to consider visiting your country, and I will inform my fellow game-playing friends and associates of this law.

Please contact me should this law be changed.

To the press

Subject: Greece Banning Computer Games

I have read over the Internet that Greece has banned all forms of computer gaming, public and private, in a recently passed law (NR 3037), and that people are being arrested for this.

I believe potential visitors to Greece should
be made aware that playing a computer game in an Internet cafe or even in one’s hotel room could have serious legal implications.

Would your newspaper be interested in writing a story about this to get the record straight and explain the situation?

Get Other Places Involved

This can’t be an effort only one website can publicize, a lot of websites, especially those in Northern European countries, need to get the word out.

So write to the webmasters of other sites and ask them to put something up about this. If they want to link to this article, that would be fine, but even more important would be for those sites to come up with the equivalent links and email addresses for their own countries.

If you don’t want to be bothered, or don’t think this is important, consider this: if such an international effort actually helps to get this law reversed, a lot more governmental types elsewhere are going to notice that, too, and if they don’t, this is a way to inform them. 🙂


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