Not even one year has passed since Iraq had its first election and the country has already banned the world’s most popular battle royale games, viz, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and Fortnite.
The citizens of Iraq have suffered decades under the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein. The country has seen numerous factional civil wars and the death toll is quite high. After driving out the Islamic State militants with U.S. backed forces, the country held its first election in 2018. Former head of the Mahdi Army militia, the Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr assumed leadership when his political coalition won the largest number of seats in the parliament.
Last Saturday, the parliamentary committee of Iraq submitted a draft law asking for a ban on PUBG citing negative effects among children and youth, regarding their cultural values and addiction to the game. This Wednesday, the government along with majority of the MPs approved the decision and a ban was implemented to block online access to PUBG along with another popular battle royale title Fortnite. The ban also includes any financial transaction related to these games such as buying in-game cosmetic items, season pass, etc. According to a report by Thomson Reuters, the text of the resolution mentioned that the ban was implemented “due to the negative effects caused by some electronic games on the health, culture, and security of Iraqi society, including societal and moral threats to children and youth.”
“What will you gain if you killed one or two people in PUBG? It is not a game for intelligence or a military game that provides you with the correct way to fight,” said Moqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi Shi’ite cleric.
The ban was of course met with negative reception among the youth. According to Reuter’s report, people weren’t angry because they won’t be able to play these games anymore, they criticized the lawmakers because of their “misplaced priorities”. They are absolutely right since Iraq has way bigger problems to deal with such as widespread unemployment, rampant corruption, and lack of basic services like water and electricity.
PUBG has already been banned in China, was temporarily banned in certain cities of India, and has been very recently banned in Nepal. This makes Iraq the fourth country to ban the game, with Fortnite being on their list too. As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, conservative third-world nations seem to completely ignore their more pressing matters and instead tend to blame video games and movies for any negative behaviour among the youth. We hope that with proper education and knowledge of world affairs, these countries will someday overcome their misplaced paranoia and lend a helping hand in the global rise of the gaming and entertainment industry.