In response to the deaths of two children, the country of Saudi Arabia has officially banned a total of 47 video games. Although only one social media challenge was responsible for the deaths, the country hopes to protect more children with the overall ban.
Video games often get a bad rap for negatively influencing children. In most violent incidents that involve children, someone inevitably calls for a ban on violent video games, although most of the games that end up getting mentioned are not intended for children under a certain age. Though video games have age ratings systems similar to that of movies, studies show most parents ignore those ratings and do not take them seriously. This exposes children to material that was already deemed inappropriate for them. But generally, the blame gets placed with the video games themselves when such incidents arise.
In this case, the controversial social media Blue Whale challenge caused two children, aged 13 and 12, to commit suicide. Blue Whale is not even a video game, but a social media challenge that dares users to participate in various disturbing activities. It eventually introduces elements of self-harm and finally tasks users to kill themselves. Although the Blue Whale challenge is at fault, The New York Times reports that Saudi Arabia has banned 47 popular video game titles in response to the children's deaths. Saudi Arabia states that these titles violate their rules and regulations.
Among those titles banned are Grand Theft Auto V, Assassin's Creed 2 and The Witcher. All of these games, though, are rated for older players. None of these titles have a link to the Blue Whale challenge in any way, but perhaps Saudi Arabia believes the ban is a preemptive step in protecting children from the violence of these titles not meant for them in the first place.
The Blue Whale challenge dates back to 2016. Authorities all over the world have linked the game to the suicides of several young people. Saudi Arabia, though, is the only country to connect actual video games to the challenge, which might leave many in the industry, as well as gamers, scratching their heads.
Perhaps the Saudi Arabian government should focus more efforts on social media's effects on young people, which was the actual cause of the children's' suicides. Banning video game titles never meant for children is a band-aid on a problem that doesn't involve video games at all.
Source: New York Times