On January 14th, an amendment presented to the French Assemblée Nationale to penalize video games deemed sexist by making them ineligible for tax credits normally awarded locally to game developers was withdrawn. Yet, looks like the proponents aren’t giving up.
On January 16th, the amendment, with the same text as the original, has been presented again to the French Parliament. Below you can read a full translation by our very own Morgane Bouvais.
“This amendment is intended to exclude from obtaining a tax credit for expenses related to video games development (CIJV), games that portray women in a degrading manner, like it is already the case for games containing pornography or extreme violence.
The struggle against the sexist content of some video games, which is regularly criticized by female players who, contrary to popular belief, represent in France about 50% of players, must be a strong public policy goal, like it was demonstrated by the Law For Real Equality Between Men and Women of August 4th 2014, that strengthened the powers of the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA) regarding the portraying of women and men in program services of audiovisual communication – particularly by fighting stereotypes, gender bias, degrading images, violences against women and violence among couples.”
“Currently, games including pornographic or extremely violent sequences which might severely impact the physical, mental or moral health of the user are not eligible for the benefits of the CIJV. Furthermore, video games specifically intended for an adult audience and marketed as such, excluding those containing sequences that are pornographic or extremely violent, are eligible by law to tax credits if their contribution to the development and diversity of French and European video game creation is significant, as determined by a points system. The previously mentioned decree dated June 23rd, 2015 defined a scale to assess the contextualization of violence.
In line with recommendation 17 of the informative report 3348 of the Delegation for Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities Between Men and Women on Women in Digital, this amendment seeks to amend the provisions of Article 220 terdecies of the tax code to alter the conditions of eligibility for video game tax credit (CIJV).
Therefore, in order to encourage a change in practices in this area, and contribute to the fight against sexism, stereotypes and gender violence in video games, it is hereby proposed to clarify that video games containing degrading representations against women are not entitled to the benefit of the gaming tax credit.”
The current regulation grants to games with development costs higher than €100,000, created primarily by developers from France or the European Union, a tax credit of up to 20% of the total development costs, but there’s a caveat:
“Video games that do not contain sequences of pornography or extremely violent scenes, and aren’t specifically designed for the adult public and marketed as such, qualify for tax credits if their contribution to the development and diversity of French and European game development is of a particularly significant level, determined by a points system.”
The amendment presented on the 16th, and the previous draft presented on the 8th and then retired, basically aim to change the term “pornography” with “degrading representation against women,” which is potentially much wider and open to interpretation.
The new draft of the amendment gained the support of five members of the French parliament in addition to the original proponents, and had been presented by thirteen members in total, led by Catherine Coutelle, President of the Delegation for Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities Between Men and Women.
Below you can check out her intervention at the Assemblée Nationale on January 19th, during which she mentioned the following.
“Furthermore, we consider essential to fight against sexism in video games and degrading representations of women, which contribute to reinforce gender stereotypes, and therefore we propose to change the eligibility requirements for video game tax credits.”
The original draft of the amendment was received with mixed reactions by multiple French game developers, some of which saw it as laudable but difficult to implement in practice, while others pointed out that French developers are already very careful on how women are represented in their games.
The proposal also received criticism on the fact that it targeted video games exclusively, and not other forms of media.