Citing “negative effects” on citizens, Jordan Jordan banned the hugely popular online game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, PUBG, on July 6. A source in Jordan’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said that the game “has negative effects on its users, which led to its being officially blocked”, according to an AFP report.

Ban on PUBG

The information related to the ban came to light after several social media users reported that they were unable to play the game and whenever they attempted to play the game, a notice — “server did not respond. Please try again later” — appeared on the screen. PUBG is so popular in Jordan that institutions in the kingdom have issued warnings to employees not to play it, as per the AFP report. Psychologists in the country have often warned that the game encourages violence and contributes to bullying amongst the youth.

PUBG’s continuing troubles in India and elsewhere

With a user base of almost 400 million people worldwide, PUBG has continually run into trouble with the Indian government. In January 2019, the Gujarat government had banned PUBG in all state schools, citing addiction and adverse effects on their education. Several districts of Gujarat had banned the game earlier this year. Rajkot was the first city in Gujarat to ban the game on March 8, 2019 for allegedly inciting violence in children, being addictive, and distracting students from studies. At least 7 people, most of whom were male and aged between 18-26 years, were arrested for violating the ban. Ahmedabad also banned the game on March 14, but lifted it witihin 15 days. The police had linked that ban order with board exams. The Gujarat Court also rejected a PIL filed by the Internet Freedom Foundation against the ban, stating that the petition’s scope did not fall under public interest.

In May 2019, the CRPF instructed commanding officers to enforce a ban on troops playing PUBG on their mobile phones following an internal survey that showed the jawans were getting addicted to the online gaming app. Addiction to the game reportedly led to isolation and sleep deprivation amongst the jawans. An internal survey had shown that the jawans had become socially inactive, and that the game had led to behavioural changes.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had also sought a report from MeitY on action taken on PUBG addiction among children in the country in March 2019. In February 2019, an 11-year-old boy had reportedly petitioned the Bombay High Court seeking a ban on PUBG in all Maharashtra schools, stating that the game promoted violence, murder, aggression, looting, leading to game addiction and cyber bullying.

On April 11, Nepal banned the game stating that its violent content had a negative impact on children. However, Nepal’s Supreme Court later stayed the ban, stating that the earlier ban was not reasonable as the game was simply used by the general public for entertainment, and allowing the ban to continue could adversely impact people’s right to freedom.

The game has previously been banned in other countries around the world as well. In April 2019, the Iraqi Parliament voted to ban PUBG and Fortnite citing their citing their “negative” influence especially on the young in a country long plagued by real-life bloodshed. A fatwa banning PUBG was also issued in the Indonesian province of Aceh as it reportedly insults Islam and makes addicted players violent, AFP had reported.

Chinese alternative to PUBG: ‘Game for Peace’

In May, Chinese tech giant and game developer Tencent ceased offering the game and started directing users to the newly launched “non-violent” clone of PUBG — Game for Peace. Game for Peace is a similar, ‘more patriotic’ multi-player battle game with an anti-terrorism theme, for which it won monetisation approval in April 2019.