The government of Jordan announced on July 6th that the wildly popular online video game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds would be blocked for users in the country, citing its “negative effects” on users. The popular “battle royale” game, widely referred to by its acronym PUBG, pits 100 players against one another on a remote island in a battle to the death.
A source in the Jordanian Telecommunications Regulatory Authority told CNN-News18 that the game “had negative effects on its users, which led to its being officially blocked”. The country’s ban on the game did not come to light until a Reddit user from Jordan wrote a popular post on the subject.
According to the CNN-News18 report, psychologists and institutions have issued warnings to avoid the game, on the grounds that exposure to violence in video games encourages violence in the real world and bullying amongst youth. A major study in the UK in 2018 found no link between graphic video games and aggression in everyday life.
The “battle royale” genre is extremely popular across the world, but PUBG has thus far received the most scrutiny from governments, having been temporarily blocked in Nepal and several Indian states and cities. Alternatives to PUBG like Fortnite are only blocked in Iraq, though in April Prince Harry called for battle royale games to be banned in the UK.
PUBG has also been made unavailable in China, where it has been replaced by the more patriotic Game for Peace. The two games are near-identical, but Game for Peace is ideologically more acceptable to the Chinese government as it celebrates the work of the Chinese air force. Part of this reimagining involved removing violence from the game: when users successfully ‘kill’ an enemy in the Chinese version the dead kneel down and wave goodbye.