Saudi Video Game Ban Hits 47 Titles Amid ‘Blue Whale’ Controversy
If you’re never heard of the “Blue Whale Challenge,” buckle in. It’s not pretty. While the origins of it are still vague, nebulous, and under investigation worldwide, this Forbes article should clear it up. It appears to have evolved into the worst sort of cyberbullying, as victims are pressured into not only performing a series of tasks, but eventually pressured into suicide, lest they face different kinds of consequences from the perpetrator. After some high-profile deaths of some young people, the Saudi Arabian government has issued bans on 47 different, popular video games.
The list of banned video games includes Grand Theft Auto V, Assassin’s Creed 2, and The Witcher III. As reported by the Associated Press, the ban comes as a result of an investigation into the deaths of two children, a 13 year-old girl and a 12 year-old boy. Their deaths were ruled as suicides, connected to the “Blue Whale” phenomenon, and supposedly came from interactions in an online video game.
The ban itself comes from the Saudi General Commission for Audio-Visual Media, for “unspecified violations of rules and regulations.” This is not the first reaction to the controversy, as several arrests have been made, laws have been passed, and websites have been shut down. In the United States the issue doesn’t appear to be as widespread, but searching for the term does lead to redirects to suicide hotlines and mental health services.