A couple weeks ago, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds—the stalwart second-place finisher in the endless battle royale between battle royale games—got banned in Nepal over addiction concerns. Turns out, however, that in the eyes of Nepal’s Supreme Court, those addiction concerns were not enough to warrant a game being tossed into the dungeon of dangerous toys.
According to The Himalayan Times (via PC Gamer), Nepal’s Supreme Court has decided to stay PUBG’s ban. Nepal’s constitution guarantees freedom of expression, so the Supreme Court wants actual proof that the fears originally cited by Nepal officials to justify the ban are reasonable.
These fears centred around addiction and aggression: “We have ordered the ban on PUBG because it is addictive to children and teenagers,” Nepal Telecommunications Authority’s deputy director Sandip Adhikari told Reuters shortly after the ban went into effect on 11 April. Other officials pointed to “shocking incidents” of PUBG-related aggression in other countries and claimed the ban was a precautionary measure.
For the time being, PUBG is once again un-banned in Nepal, meaning that internet providers can unblock it and citizens won’t be arrested for playing it. As for whether that’ll hold, time will tell. It bears noting also that PUBG and Fortnite were banned in Iraq last week, with the Iraq parliament offering up many of the same rationalisations as Nepal’s government. Despite a lack of evidence suggesting that video game addiction is a widespread problem, the idea that games encourage addictive and even aggressive behaviours apparently continues to carry weight.