Pakistan bans PUBG temporarily after reports of youth suicides

Three suicides have been associated with PUBG game in Pakistan

Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) suspended PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) game after a number of complaints from the parents. The decision is also influenced by Lahore High Court’s order to the authority to look into the reports of suicide by a number of players.

The court is hearing a related case on 9th of July, as per a PTA press release.

What is PUBG?

PUBG is a multiplayer game developed by South Korean game maker Bluehole’s subsidiary PUBG Corporation. The game was launched in 2016. It is classified as a Battle royal game, a game genre that involves survival, exploration, and scavenging elements with the last man standing as the winner. PUBG has numerous maps where a person can play individually or in a group of up to four people.  

Is the game driving youth to the edge?

There have been at least three reported cases of youngsters committing suicide in Pakistan. The latest victim was eighteen-year-old Shaharyar, who belonged to Quetta and was a resident of Lahore. His brother confirmed that Shaharyar was a PUBG addict. Prior to committing suicide, he called his game partner and apologized as per reports. A suicide note was also found.

The two other suicide cases also involve youth. One of the victims Mohammad Zakarya committed suicide after failing to complete a mission. He had given his matriculation exams. Another victim, 20 years old Johnty Joseph committed suicide after his father reprimanded him for spending too much time playing the game. He was a student at the FC College University.

Ban sparks off online debate

Mental health experts have been discussing the ill effects of violent games for a long time, especially on the younger minds in their developing stages. It can lead to social withdrawal, crankiness, sleep issues, poor cognitive development, shorter attention spans, and violent behavior in general.

A number of local gamers took social media to criticize the decision by the authorities and some suggested it can lead to greater frustration among the youth. Others shared sarcastic memes about the ban. Some yet, opined that TikTok and not PUBG should be banned.

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