Quebec Aims to Put ‘Chez Geeks’ Gaming Store Out of Business

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Chez Geeks LogoI have to say I partially understand the Canadian province of Quebec’s La charte de la langue française; the people of Quebec are very proud of their French heritage and originally passed Loi 101 in order to the stem what they saw as the inevitable disintegration, and overthrow, of their culture by evil English speaking anglophones. I get it. As xenophobic as it sounds, I really do get it. But the lengths the so called “language police” – the Office québécois de la langue française (QQLF) – go to enforce French language signage and products is staggeringly draconian in its nature.

The latest business on the QQFL’s hit list happens to be Chez Geeks, a Montreal based gaming store. Chez Geek co-owner Giancarlo Caltabiano reports he has received three notices from the QQFL stating the store will be fined if it continues to sell products which do not have French language equivalents. The letters also claim the staff at Chez Geeks does not greet their customers in French, as the law demands. The language laws in Quebec even go to the extreme that if a French edition of a game were to sell out Caltabiano must remove all other language editions from the shelves until the French game is restocked.

Chez Geeks (MTL Blog)How ridiculous does all of this sound to those of us who don’t live in Quebec?

Caltabiano now says if the QQFL continues it’s pursuit to fine Chez Geeks he will simply close shop.

With a weak Canadian dollar, and projections of a recession hitting the country later this year, does it make much sense for the government of Quebec to drive honest hard working men and women out of business (or at least out of the province) in support of a law a great many consumers believe go too far? Obviously I don’t live in Quebec so it’s possible the province doesn’t need tax revenues or the such. But I doubt it…

On a quick side note, the customer in the CTV video is making a great purchase with Smash Up from our friends at AEG!


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  1. I’m surprised no one has come along and hired you to either be the editor of geek related news section at a newspaper or website or run PR for their company. If IGN ever wanted t ostart covering boardgaming in depth you should be the guy they look to. I’ve been coming here for over three years and never fail to read something interesting. I might not agree with every opinion but I’m glad you do more than just rehash news.

    • Thanks Dale! My take on TGG is to provide things I find to be interesting and I think our audience will want to know about. We don’t enjoy our hobbies in a vacuum so I like to toss out an opinion or at least put a personal spin on news that’s posted. As for working for some big outlet or company? I don’t know. No one’s ever asked. 🙂

    • The problem is Chez Geek can’t operate profitably if they were to adhere to the strictest letter of Loi 101. All games and toys aren’t produced in French just as every French product available worldwide isn’t translated to other languages either. The QQFL is warning of the fines as a way to make the store toe the line, knowing full well that there’s no way the store could do so and still turn a profit. As someone who’s sat down and talked in depth with store and company owners I know there isn’t a huge profit margin to play with; most people get into the business side because of their love for the hobby.

      If the people of Montreal don’t want to have a game store in their midst then that’s their business but I’ll take a stab there are quite a few folks who frequent Chez Geeks and would hate to see them move to another province. I just don’t understand how the QQLF can’t come to grips with “boutique” sorts of stores like CG.

      Since I’ve never traveled to Quebec I’m curious if foreign language films (i.e. those not in French) have to be dubbed before they’re shown in theaters. If not, then wouldn’t theater owners be in violation of Loi 101 too?

      • Excellent point. Many places, like the casino, normally should be considered to be in violation of the law,

        I guess they pick and choose they targets.

        Also, they are not as concerned with the quality of the language as you would think.

  2. As a French citizen, I understand the Loi 101 about the French language use in Quebec. In France, every foreign product is translated into French. The translation may not be a booklet like the original foreign language booklet, but there is a translation. As we live in Europe, booklets are translated in, generally, huge booklets with European languages (English, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, German, Bosnian, Polish, etc) and these booklets are released depending the European area of distribution to reduce costs (aka a 3 to 5 languages booklet per area). If Chez Geek can’t sell French translated games because they are not distributed in the North American market, it may search on the French websites of the games editors to get French rules books. It may also contact these editors to send it these rules books instead to print them. Anyway, the costs of this “francisation” could be impacted on the public sale prices. I pay a small fee to have my games translated and I am not dead!! ^^ (unless the French government is leading French economy like Greece economy – they are really near…)

  3. French products are provided when possible. And fyi they ALWAYS greet clients in french
    oqlf wants them to not sell products that dont have a french version. ALl the stores in the province sell said products.

    Not all games, especially indie games, are translated. The cost of translating all the products as they come in, new products every week, is ludicrous. Your reality is different from theirs.

    And for the record, not all companies can afford les coûts de francisation.

    It is very easy to judge from behind your screen.

  4. The store cannot make the translation, or have it made. Translations are covered by the original copyright. The translation can legally be done only by the holder of the copyright. If there is no translation, the store really has no choice but NOT to sell the product.


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