Saudi Arabia is generally thought of as stuck in the past, but the country has been making some strides to modernize itself in recent years. Unfortunately, these small efforts to join the rest of the world haven’t extended to the world of video games.
The Associated Press reports:
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia says it’s banning a long list of popular video games after allegations surfaced that two children killed themselves after being encouraged to do so in an online game.
Two children, ages 13 and 12, killed themselves this week supposedly whilst playing the so called Blue Whale social media game. What the hell is Blue Whale you ask? I asked the same thing, and the answer makes me pretty suspicious in reference to this ban.
Blue Whale is this “game” where a moderator gives people tasks to complete. They are harmless at first, but slowly progress to self harm, and eventually suicide. Sounds like some bs made up to scare parents into keeping their kids off the internet right? The thing is, as far as I could find, there is ZERO evidence this game even exists. There are a few reports of it happening going back as far as 2015, but nothing confirmed by any agency worldwide. Really seems like it pops up here and there, some clickbait articles go out, and then it disappears back into the ether.
So the reason behind the ban is dubious at best, but then we get to what was actually banned:
The Saudi General Commission for Audio-Visual Media said Monday it was banning 47 games, including Grand Theft Auto V, Assassins Creed 2and Witcher, for unspecified violations of rules and regulations.
So a seemingly random assortment of video games have been banned by the country, some more than a decade old; and this somehow ties into a fake social media game that supposedly tricked a couple kids into suicide. Really seems like it’s just a reason to ban some games that are seen as inappropriate for that impressionable youth in Saudi Arabia.
Decades of video games and comic books have molded me into the nerd with a heart of gold that I am today. I can go full fanboy one second, and then gleefully play devil’s advocate the next- life is just more fun that way.