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Nepal bans popular online survival game

April 12, 2019

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, or PUBG, has been blocked across the country after parents filed a complaint that it was detrimental to their children. India is considering a similar ban.

Young men play PlayerUnknown's Battleground
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

The government of Nepal has banned the popular video game PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), saying on Friday that the game was having "negative psychological impacts on children and teenagers." The country's telecommunications authority has instructed internet service providers to block access to PUBG.

Nepalese parents had sought the ban after reporting an uptick in violent behavior amongst their children.

"Parents had filed a petition at a district court seeking a ban. The court ordered police to consult psychologists, who recommended a ban because it was having negative psychological impacts on children and teenagers," Sandip Adhikari, a spokesman for the Nepal Telecommunications Authority, told German news agency DPA.

India is also mulling a ban on the game after a teenager committed suicide when his parents tried to restrict his time with the game. PUGB is already banned in the state of Gujarat, and a minister in the coastal state of Goa has described the game as "a demon in every house."

Experts dispute violence connection

Released by a subsidiary of the South Korean video game company Bluehole in 2017, PUBG was inspired by the Japanese novel and film Battle Royale, a dystopian thriller about a group of teenagers forced to fight to the death by the government. In the game, a group of up to 100 players are parachuted onto an island with the goal of being the final survivor. The players must outsmart or fight each other to survive as the game's map shrinks in size.

The game can be played on consoles, PCs, tablets and smartphones, and it is one of the best-selling and most-played video games of all time with 400 million players in total. It inspired the also massively famous 'battle royale' version of the game Fortnite, which has been criticized by parents and teachers' groups, professional sports coaches and even the likes of the UK's Prince Harry for its addictive nature.

Experts who study video games have long disputed the idea that video games can lead children to exhibit violent behavior, likening it to a similar hysteria that parents once exhibited about rock music. A 2012 paper by the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that fighting-based video games did not increase aggression, but rather boost cooperation and problem-solving skills.

Professor Jane McGonigal, a University of California-based researcher on video games, has said in interviews that while addiction to video games, which she defines as upward of 20 hours a week, can have adverse health effects, there is no connection between games and violent actions.

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Elizabeth Schumacher
Elizabeth Schumacher Elizabeth Schumacher reports on gender equity, immigration, poverty and education in Germany.