The gory incident of a boy in Belgaum, Karnataka, beheading his father for not allowing him to play PubG Mobile has shocked all sane persons and brought the focus back on the ill effects of Mobile Game Addiction on the youth of the country.
While participating in a TV discussion today, I was surprised at the number of calls received from different parts of Karnataka pleading the channel to do some thing to get PubG banned to save the youngsters who have become addicted to the game.
In the past, we have discussed the adverse effect of BlueWhale and urged the Government to take suitable action including identification and removal of dangerous games like the Bluewhale. It appears that PubG (Player Unknown’s Battle Grounds) is far more dangerous than Blue Whale.
Blue Whale used a process of cyber hypnotizing the player and leading him to commit suicide. But it required a mentor to carry out its design and appears to have petered out after the arrest of the founder.
In the Belgaum incident, the boy has planned out the murder of his father in a gory manner and locked up his mother first before assaulting the father and chopping off his head and hands. The anger that he has displayed is surprising and indicates the profound impact the Game has created on the boy.
Some of the other incidents reported include the following:
- A 20-year old boy from Jagitial, Telangana died after playing PUBG Mobile for 45 days. After suffering intense neck pain, she was taken to the hospital where the doctors found the nerves in the neck were damaged. The boy died while undergoing treatment.
- In a recent report, a boy from Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh accidentally drank acid mistaking it for water while playing PUBG. He was rushed to the hospital and doctors have now said that his condition is now out of danger.
- Two persons who were busy playing PUBG on train tracks were knocked down by a train. The incident happened in Hingoli district in Maharashtra. They were run over by a Hyderabad-Ajmer train. An accidental death report was filed.
- A fitness trainer from Jammu allegedly started hitting himself after losing at PUBG. He was reportedly playing the battle royale game for 10 days. Doctors state that although he is recognising people, he is still not very conscious and still under the influence of the PUBG game.
- In another incident, a boy died of Cardiac Arrest after playing the game continuously for 6 hours.
There have been many more incidents reported where the adolescents have shown violent reactions when asked to stop playing the game. Many have dropped out of their colleges out of the addiction.
As the clamour for the game being banned grows, PUBG is preparing to release Mobile Season 9 on September 13. Before launching of this new version certain challenges have been thrown up to offer some freebies to the players and this may be the cause for a rush in completing the assignments leading to the violent behaviours we have seen.
The National Child Rights Commission has stated that the game should be banned because of its violent nature.
In some of the States, PUBG has already been banned. There have been as many as 10 arrests for people accused of playing an online game despite the ban being enforced.
However, the ban has not been effective partly because the game is a downloadable game and once downloaded, it stays in the mobile even if further downloads are prevented.
Time has come for the MeiTy to recognize that this game deserves to be banned completely to protect the youth.
Some may wonder, what is the use of banning a game when many more similar games may sprout up. Some want to blame the parents of these players (most of them are boys in the 17-19 years of age) for their failure to stop the addiction without understanding that parents are not expert psychological counsellors and if they attempt to correct the behaviour of these addicted kids, more violent backlashes will happen.
In the case of Bluewhale the affected kids were of lesser age and some corrective action could be taken by schools. But PubG addiction appears to be more on young adults who are out of school and therefore it is difficult to counsel them in the schools or colleges through an effort can be made.
One of the features of the game reported by a person was that the game gives an option to name the enemies with real world persons before killing them in the battles. This feature of the game makes it possible for the gamer to name the characters after people around him like their parents or friends or teachers and go about to kill them in the virtual game to derive a satisfaction. The problem however is that this may incite them as in the case of the Belgaum incident to commit the killing in the real world instead of the Cyber world.
This feature of the game may therefore be considered as “Inciting Violence against living persons” and could be a valid reason to ban the game.
It is reported that the Jordan Government has already banned the game in their country.
We urge the ministry to immediately issue an order under Section 79 of ITA 2000 to declare this game as harmful to the society and bring it down from the playstore. Simultaneously, all MSPs should be ordered to kill the game in any of the mobiles where they have been already downloaded. This of course needs to be through an order of the Government in the interest of the community.
We therefore appeal to Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad, the honourable minister of IT in the Central Government to take immediate action in this regard to get the game banned.
To prevent sprouting of similar games, the Government should set up a “Controller of Online Games” and monitor such dangerous games and take immediate action to get them removed.
We also urge the responsible people in the community like the parents , teachers, and child right activists to approach their respective MPs to take up the request with Mr R S Prasad and push for action.
We also urge the media to take up a sustained campaign on an all India level to ensure that the issue gets the attention of the Government of India immediately.