In many countries around the world, gamers and fans have the luxury of taking streaming for granted. But there are countries where there are strict bans on video game content. And now, it looks like Thailand may ban video game streaming. While the ban would not be absolute, it would severely limit the content which Thai gamers can stream or view.
How We Know Thailand May Ban Video Game Streaming
This news comes by way of Coconuts Bangkok. The site explains, “The founder of esports team Made in Thailand (MiTH) said he had met with senior officials about the law in a Tuesday Twitch stream. Chanignun Thipairote, aka P’Van FPS Thailand, said the law would ban gamers from streaming over two hours a day, prohibit violent content and require tournaments to get official permission.”
Technically, this report still falls into the realm of hearsay, since it is indirect. All we have is Thipairote’s word. But there is no reason to question that he did have this conversation, or that this threat exists.
Along with the specifics he gave concerning the types of content the ban would restrict, he also gave a date. According to Thipairote, regulators will make their decision on July 13th.
Since circulating this information, Thipairote has not answered any questions regarding the matter. Also, the Digital Society and Economy Ministry has apparently not returned calls concerning the issue.
Why Would Thailand Ban Video Game Streaming?
Gaming and streaming are popular activities in Thailand. But they are subjects of debate as well. Some regulators worry that too much gaming or streaming might be bad for a person’s health. Others are concerned that violence in video games might lead to violence in real life.
Indeed, there was an incident back in 2008 involving Grand Theft Auto IV. An 18-year-old stole a cab and murdered the driver, and cited GTA IV as an influence. After that, the Thai government banned the game and initiated a recall of existing copies in the country.
In another prominent incident in 2014, the National Council for Peace and Order banned Tropico 5 for political reasons following a coup.
So, Thailand does have a history of coming down on video games. It is entirely possible that they could be planning to do so again now.
Do Video Games Really Cause Violence?
The argument about whether violent video games promote violent behavior IRL is an ongoing one. Dana Foundation states, “In a policy statement on June 22, 2017, [the APA’s division for media psychology and technology] found ‘scant evidence’ of any causal connection between playing violent video games and actually committing violent activities and ‘little evidence’ that playing such games ‘produces violent criminal behavior.’”
Dana Foundation adds, “Focusing on violent video games as the cause of mass shootings almost certainly distracts legislators and government officials from the pressing need to deal with more fundamental causes. It is a moral imperative for federal and state legislators, government officials, and all others concerned with lethal violence to confront the underlying problems and not take symbolic refuge in blaming violent video games.”
What Would a Ban Do to the Industry?
A ban on streaming would be bad for people who like to watch video games, and even worse for those who stream professionally.
Sakolkorn Sakavee, President at Blockchain Capital Group Holdings Co., Ltd. posted on Facebook concerning the matter. Sakavee said (translated), “I feel proud every time I see professional athletes have real career. Some people earn hundreds of thousands per month. More than working a company or some people earn a living by Streaming … Until today, you could say that esports and the streaming industry have really come a long way. But today, there’s some bad news that will seriously affect our esports streaming industry. Can (streaming) even be banned? It’s on a foreign platform. But if it happens, what would happen to the lives of people who make a living as a streamer? They put their lives into this industry and they love this field. You could be destroying their lives.”
Is It Possible for the Ban to Hold?
Even if a ban does pass, how likely would it be that the government would enforce it effectively? It is hard to say. It could be difficult to stop streamers from using platforms which are based abroad. It probably would depend on how committed the government is to enforcing the ban and how far they are willing to go to make it hard to stream and watch video games.
What Can Thai Gamers Do Without Streams to Watch?
If this ban passes in Thailand, it is going to wreck the lives of Thai streamers. Those who make money streaming may need to either completely change how and what they stream, or find new careers.
What about fans who won’t have anything to watch? Well, hopefully they will still find ways to support their favorite streamers. But they may need to spend more time doing other things, like playing their favorite video games. Indeed, gambling and video gaming share a long and rich history. Perhaps a few Thai FPS streamers who are out of a job will also turn to online casino games for a new income source (indeed, it would be something else to stream).
What Happens Now?
Will Thailand pass a ban restricting streaming? We can only wait and see what happens. Hopefully, the ban will not pass. But if it does, it will lead to major upheaval in the Thai streaming industry. Along the way, it will disrupt many lives during an already challenging economic time.