Most people not living on Mars must by now be at least vaguely aware of the global phenomenon that is Minecraft. Kids the world over have taken to this ‘virtual Lego sandbox’ of a game, revelling in the freedom it gives to create everything from fully working virtual computers, to recreations of the Game of Throne’s Kings Landing, to Playable Guitars!
Although a simple survival game involving fending off blocky-graphic monsters at night or when encountered deep underground forms the core structure of the ‘basic game’ (other game modes, including a purely ‘Creative Mode’, are available), it is the wild creativity and flights of imagination that Minecraft fosters that accounts for its huge popularity among children, and for a great deal of praise from parents and teachers alike, with most viewing it as breath of fresh air when contrasted with the usual trend for ever more violence in video games.
It is therefore with considerable surprise (and not a little confusion) that we learn Turkey is planning on banning Minecraft on the grounds that it is too violent! Aysenur Islam, Turkey’s family and social policies minister, stated that,
‘[We] will examine the game and see if there is an element of violence.’
The investigation follows remarks made at a press meeting outside parliament last Friday, when one reporter suggested that Minecraft ‘depicts violence against women and could promote aggression by awarding points for killing characters in the game.’ According to a report in Hürriyet Daily News,
“Although the game can be seen as encouraging creativity in children by letting them build houses, farmlands and bridges, mobs [hostile creatures] must be killed in order to protect these structures. In short, the game is based on violence,” Habertürk quoted the report as saying.
Some children may confuse the real world with the game world after playing Minecraft, leading them to believe that torturing animals would not give them pain, added the report, which was based on the game experience of a nine-year-old child.
It also suggested that the game could lead to “social isolation,” while exposing children to social risks in the multiplayer form, such as abuse and bullying.’
Utterly preposterous as this sounds, it seems that the Turkish government is taking these claims in all seriousness,
‘The report prepared by the ministry’s Children Services General Directorate was sent to its legal affairs department with an instruction for the legal process to ban the game to be started.’
Bizarre as picking on what most people would view as a notably harmless video game may seem, Turkey is no stranger when it comes to censorship, and last year the government led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan banned Twitter and YouTube (although both social media services are now available again.)
Ultimately, the fate of Minecraft in Turkey is now down to its courts, but even if banned users will still be able to download and play the game online using the magic of VPN!