Tencent’s popular battle royale PUBG Mobile may be banned in India after the Punjab-based lawyer H.C. Arora filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to the Haryana High Court to deny people’s access to the game because of addiction and inciting violence.
The game was already banned for a short time in some Indian cities in March 2019. But is it possible for the game to be banned in the entire country?
Questions surrounding PUBG Mobile, addiction, and violence have started to appear in India again since the high court will rule whether the game must be banned in the country. Before making a statement, the Haryana High Court asked for advice from the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), which has yet to respond.
“School going children who are losing interest in studies have become addicted to the game,” the litigation reads. “The parents of such children are helpless. In case they insist the children to stop playing it, they become aggressive and go into depression.”
PUBG Mobile has been a success in India, which is one of the countries where most of the players are located. Last December, the All-Stars India 2019 event featured a $70,000 prize pool and took place in Hyderabad (Telangana, India).
But it also raised issues of addiction when people starting dying while playing. Two days ago, a 25-year-old died of a stroke during a PUBG Mobile game. “It seems the stroke occurred because the victim was over-excited while playing online game PUBG,” the autopsy report reads. Similar cases were previously reported.
In March 2019, several cities in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu banned PUBG Mobile before exams for two months. Over 20 players were detained in police stations for violating the law. The ban was then lifted in April after the exams.
Those issues were raised a few months before the World Health Organization (WHO) voted to categorize “gaming disorder” as an international disease. The connection between video games and violence, however, is more controversial.
These are some of the reasons why the ban of PUBG Mobile is being discussed by the Indian government. In China, a more family-friendly version of the game, Game for Peace, was released to minimize violence. In Nepal, mobile and network providers are legally obligated to block the game.
In India, a PIL aims to highlight societal issues or interpretations of the law and encourages public debates. Even if the ministry supports the decision to ban PUBG Mobile, the high court wouldn’t have the power to draft a law—that power belongs to the parliament. But it could be the first step toward a general ban, similar to Nepal. The state government could also try to ban the game in its jurisdiction, similar to what happened from March to April 2019.
Right now, however, it’s unclear what the future looks like for PUBG Mobile in India.