Thomson Reuters is reporting that Iraq’s Parliament voted unanimously on Wednesday to ban several popular online games, including PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite, citing the risks posed to the social and psychological health of their player bases and the public. The vote took place weeks after Iraqi lawmakers prepared a bill with a list of games considered to be the most addictive, claiming these games pose “negative effects on health, culture, and security.” The resolutions also requires the Iraqi government to bar financial transactions related to the games targeting in the legislation.
This motion follows other recent bans of online games like the battle royale-style PUBG in Nepal and India, motivated by similar concerns, despite deputy director at the Nepal Telecommunications Authority Sandip Adhikari acknowledging that there have so far been no reported incidents related to the game. Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, leader of the majority party following last year’s parliamentary elections, specifically referred to PUBG in calling for the ban on the ground that it offers no value to children in the nation.
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.
Iraq has struggled for several decades under UN sanctions and dictatorial rule under Saddam Hussein, the United States’s invasion in 2003 and subsequent civil war, and the fight against Islamic State, commonly referred to as ISIS. The country suffers from corruption and struggles to provide basic services like water and electricity to its population. Young people in particular are experiencing very high levels of unemployment
The new bill banning PUBG, Fortnite, and other similar games met with discontent on Iraqi social media, where users criticized the lawmakers for having set sights on the wrong targets. Since first convening, the Iraqi Parliament has only passed one other piece of legislation, their 2019 federal budget.
#Iraqi Facebook publish this image “Iraq before parliament bans #PUBG game (top), Iraq after the ban it (down) as seen by Iraqi MPs”. Its really smart criticism to MPs that they must pay attention to the real problems in the country (reconstruction) not get busy with small issues pic.twitter.com/y3XgnpDmVn
— Mustafa Habib (@Mustafa_Habib33) April 18, 2019
#Mosul is destroyed. Thousands are still reported missing. The future is still vague. Plenty of ISIS related issues are still waiting for solutions. Meanwhile, The Iraqi parliament is convened to ban Pub G & porn websites.
No words to describe this farce…!
— Ali Y. Al-Baroodi (@AliBaroodi) April 17, 2019
It remains to be seen whether this new legislation will impart any positive effects for the nation, or if other games and media will be targeted by the Iraqi Parliament. China also banned the world’s most popular battle-royale titles over moral objections, but remains a major consumer of mobile titles with micro transactions.