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June 24, 2019
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Saudi Arabia appears to ban 47 video games after deaths of children

Saudi Arabia appears to ban 47 video games after deaths of children

July 16, 2018 | By Bryant Francis

Earlier today, the Saudi General Comission for Audiovisual Media announced a ban on up to 47 video games in a move first reported by The Associated Press. It's not an unfamiliar move in a country that's recently halted the sale of games like A Way Out, but the reasoning for this ban has some slightly unusual origins. 

According an AP report, the ban (which covers game series including Grand Theft Auto, Assassin's Creed, and The Witcher) comes following the deaths of two children, one a 13-year-old girl, the other a 12-year-old boy. 

Both reportedly took their own lives after playing the "Blue Whale Game," which does not appear to be a video game, but a phenomenon of online challenges that appear to encourage self harm (think of it like a far darker, more harmful version of "the ice bucket challenge" or other viral challenges that have appeared in the United States).

Another report from Arab News appears to add more context to this ban, purportedly tying several deaths to the challenges, and one father attempts to describe the game as something that appeared on a "gaming platform." The report also indicates Egypt and the UAE have banned the Blue Whale Game, though they have not similarly extended it to cover actual video games.

Update: A PR and marketing professional working in the Middle East region noted via Twitter: "...Most of these franchises (including The Witcher which I worked on) were already banned at their respective launch."

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