According to various Nepalese news outlets, spotted by Destructoid, the Metropolitan Crime Division filed a Public Interest Litigation at the Kathmandu District Court on Wednesday, urging a ban on PUBG on grounds that the game “was having a negative effect on the behavior and study of children and youth.”
The order to ban the game was enacted by Courts this past week, forcing various telecoms and legislative and law enforcement bodies to enforce the ban. Anyone found playing the game could face arrest under the new order, and the National Telecommunication Authority ordered mobile and internet service providers to block all access to it.
Speaking to media on the matter, Dhiraj Pratrap Singh, Chief of the Metropolitan Crime Division, told The Kathmandu Post:
“We received a number of complaints from parents, schools and school associations regarding the effect of the game on children. We also held discussions with psychiatrists before requesting the Kathmandu District Court for permission to ban the game.
Parents and schools had complained that the game was affecting their children’s studies and making them more aggressive. When we consulted with psychiatrists, they also said that the violence in the game can make people aggressive in real life.”
The idea that video games, or playing them, contributes to anti-social or violent behavior is a contentious one. It is undeniable that youth violence and other anti-social behaviors are a global concern, but what is in dispute is where the blame lies. Unbiased research into the issues would suggest that there are almost always multiple factors at play here.
Some research would even go so far as to suggest that video games can reduce violence, but this kind of analysis often misses the mark by ignoring other factors that may be influencing the outcome of the interactions between violence and video games.
As one example, socioeconomic status may explain both a decline in violent behavior and an increase in video game playing. More affluent youth have the means and time to buy and play video games, which keeps them safely inside while avoiding potentially violent interactions in everyday life.
But there is still some evidence that suggest some types of violent or aggressive behavior may be increasingly likely due to games and the conditions they create. One study examined 161 9- to 12-year olds and 354 college students and their responses to playing games that were either violent or non-violent. Those who played one class of game were then made to play another game in which they set punishment levels to be delivered to another person participating in the study (they were not actually administered). The effects observed included an increased likelihood to administer more punishing effects to opponents if the subject had played a violent game. This study also observed an increased likelihood of being habitually exposed to violent media if one had been exposed to different forms of real violence.
Another study examined the media habits of almost 200 high school students finding that, when controlling for sex, total screen time and aggressive beliefs and attitudes, that increased exposure to violent or suggestive content could potentially lead to higher rates of physically aggressive behavior. A 2010 analysis of 136 studies representing 130,296 participants found a consistent pattern between playing violent video games and many measures of aggression.
And while there are of course other studies which don’t observe these kinds of trends in violence, it’s pretty clear that there is some influence here, although it’s very difficult to say how much. And it’s much harder to pin the blame on one game in particular, as violent behavior is commonly a product of multiple factors.
So do I think banning games, even violent ones, helps? Not really. A more productive effort would be spending time and resources on education about how to prevent and curb violence through anger management techniques, counseling, relationship therapy and other forms of mediation. And no, understanding the causes of violence and understanding how to control them is not some Orwellian nightmare given form, so stop freaking out.