Previous Reports Citing 47 Games Banned in Saudi Arabia Due to Suicide Have Been Debunked
Earlier this week, The Hollywood Reporter reported a list of 47 video games that were allegedly banned in Saudi Arabia in response to suicides being committed by children who played a social media game called Blue Whale. The game seemed to intend for its players, with the main target audience being youth, to commit a series of hurtful acts against themselves, culminating in lethal physical harm. While the suicides were met with sympathy, the report of banned games led many to believe the same demonizing of video games seen in the U.S. during the 1990s would be repeated elsewhere. However, Saudi officials have now come out to confirm that the Saudi Arabia ban list is not actually in response to these suicides and that the number was grossly exaggerated.
As reported on GamesIndustry.biz, multiple Saudi game industry members who have worked with the Saudi General Commission for Audio-Visual Media have spoken out about the report of the Saudi Arabia ban list. According to their word, many games on this list have in fact been banned from sale in Saudi Arabia, but they were not all banned at the same time nor were they shut down in response to the Blue Whale social media game, as the AP report would lead people to believe. According to Saudi localization expert Nazih Fares:
“Currently, the ‘ban’ of games has been quite rare, because GCAM — and other Middle East rating boards like National Media Council in the United Arab Emirates — actually work hand in hand with the game publishers either directly or via their official distributors. For example, in the case of The Witcher 3 — which I started working on its localisation — the game was localised in Arabic with subtitles and language, but also reducing the nudity and removing other cultural topics from the game that could be problematic (it was similar to the Japanese SKU of the game for example).”
Another localization expert, Malek Teffaha of Ubisoft, stated that Watch Dogs 2 and South Park were the only games from the publisher to be banned in Saudi Arabia, and that some games like Far Cry 3 and 4 were able to have their bans reversed. He added:
“One inaccurate article from AP has caused a heap of mess externally and internally. Saudi has not issued a banning of 47 games on Monday. These are legacy banned titles. I beg you AP, please remove the article and clarify the mistake.”
“It’s insane to see more Western media cover the same exact story because it came from you, when neither GCAM nor any local publisher was contacted to clarify. You have scared developers and distributors into thinking that their approved games are in danger. You are helping propagate stereotypes and ruin years worth of progress and work we and other publishers have strived to achieve, all in the span of one inaccurate article. Please own up, and admit to your mistake and mess and help clean it up.”
While it is still unfortunate that cultural differences cause the games to be fully banned in Saudi Arabia, the country has been making more progressive moves in regards to media in more recent years. Hopefully one day, Saudis can one day enjoy the majesty of The Witcher 3’s nudity. What do you guys think about the Saudi Arabia ban list report being proven false and misleading? Let us know in the comments below.
We would also like to sincerely apologize to anyone we have unintentionally hurt. The writer from Hollywood Reported is a trusted friend of one of our writers, and we took the initial report at face value and that should never happen. We apologize for our part in the story and we promise we will not repeat the same mistake twice.
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Cory Lara2094 Posts
A royally radical and totally tubular 90s kid, Cory has a passion for all things nerdy, particularly gaming and nostalgia. While an accountant by day, he strives to be as creative and humorous as possible in his free time, be it here writing on Don't Feed the Gamers, or making dumb satirical posts on his Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram accounts.