[Updated] Saudi Arabia Bans Almost 50 Games After Two Children Commit Suicide

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018 9:09 am

Two children took their lives as part of a social media challenge.

Update (7/20/18): Following AP’s initial report, GamesIndustry.biz discovered this news story was “almost entirely false.” GamesIndustry.biz said “[M]ultiple people working in the region’s games industry and with the Saudi General Commission for Audio-Visual Media (GCAM) told GamesIndustry.biz that the group took no such action.”

GamesIndustry.biz said the games referenced in the original story are banned in the region, but that they weren’t all banned at the same time, and the bans weren’t “in response to the alleged suicides.”

Our original article is below.

The reported suicide of two children, aged 12 and 13, has caused Saudi Arabia to ban 47 video games.

As reported by PC Games N, the list of banned games includes Grand Theft Auto V, Assassin’s Creed 2, and The Witcher. However, the deaths didn’t have an apparent connection with any of these violent video games. They were reportedly part of a deadly social media challenge called the Blue Whale Challenge.

Social media and internet challenges have exploded in popularity in recent years, with everything from charitable causes (the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge) to dangerous “games” (like the Chubby Bunny challenge) encouraging participants to complete some sort of task and typically share their exploits online through photos and videos.

PC Games N said the Blue Whale challenge takes 50 days to complete, with a moderator providing the participant with different tasks to complete each day. The challenge culminates with the participant being challenged to kill themselves. Forbes said the challenge’s name comes from the phenomenon of blue whales “beaching” themselves for no apparent reason.

AP reported the video game ban comes from the Saudi General Commission for Audio-Visual Media, though the commission didn’t list any specific “violations of rules and regulations.” The commission also didn’t specify what connection the children’s deaths had to the ban.

Tragic cases like these give parents all the more reason to keep an eye on their children’s online activities. If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline or another emergency service in your area.

Top image © rangizzz / Adobe Stock

Brandy Berthelson

Brandy Berthelson has been writing about video games and technology since 2006, with her work appearing on sites including AOL Games, Digital Spy, and Adweek. When she’s not gaming, Brandy enjoys crafting, baking, and traveling with her husband.

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