Tencent’s PUBG continues to be a huge hit among Indians. Young mobile and PC gamers of India have been hooked to the game ever since it was released in 2016. It wouldn’t be a stretch to add it to our national additions (chai, being the first) but it definitely is a stretch to arrest players for it. This is precisely what happened in Rajkot, where the police arrested six teenagers for playing the battle royale game in public. These are undergrads who dared to play the game, following the ban put into effect in Rajkot, just last week.
Let’s talk about why things have gone out of hand. The addiction: PUBG’s mass appeal has a lot to do with the availability and accessibility of the game.
You can play it anytime on your phone and most importantly, you can play it for free. Naturally, every kid on the street lapped it up just like any other gaming fad. Except its not a fad if it lasts so long.
PUBG is here to stay and no campus bans will keep it out of the hands of kids. Recently, we’ve seen a bunch of controversies around the game. Chennai’s university banned the game on campus. They thought it is an evil affecting the kids’ grades. Goa also banned the game following a ban in Baroda and a few other cities. That’s a lot of legal action against what is essentially a mobile game. You don’t see that happening to commuters playing Candy Crush on a daily basis. It also leads to the fact that PUBG is met with apprehension because of its nature.
Parents and government authorities have always been skeptical about games that revolve around combat and violence of any kind. They think gameplays like these encourage and endorse violent behaviour. Why such games are harmful to the psyche is part of a larger debate. Let’s focus on the case in hand here. PUBG isn’t a disturbing game like the Blue Whale Challenge that was doing the rounds a while ago. It doesn’t do anything that other battle royale games aren’t already doing. Some addictions are pretty harmless and I think, gaming is one of them.
If you’re an Indian kid, you probably have had instances of your parents hovering over you, demanding that you stop playing the game. Indian parents have never been on-board with their kids playing baseless games. We’ve already talked about the youth having to answer for the time spent on gaming. Added to that, players now have to worry about the cops rounding them up.
Are kids answerable to the police for their personal vices? Since when did gaming addiction (to a legal game) become illegal? These are logical questions from anyone who knows that there’s no law that prohibits you from playing games in your personal time. The only people responsible for an individual’s choices are their guardians and their own conscience. Police don’t get to lock you up for your addictions, they just don’t! Parents grounding a child for using the phone too much is very different from cops arresting game players. And that is the key here. It’s a family and individual’s responsibility to curb the PUBG addition.
The popular battle royale game is also pretty difficult to ban. If the government wants to have a go at it, they’d have to first make local internet providers cut PUBG’s servers off. ISP’s will have to install filters to spot IP addresses that host the PUBG servers. Another alternative would be to block traffic going towards PUBG servers. But these methods also have a loophole. VPNs still exist and players can still go unnoticed. And we don’t see the government going as far as blocking PUBG on App Stores. This goes to show that it isn’t going to be simple and its enough for Indian teens to rest assured that their favourite game is going nowhere.