Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (popularly known as PUBG) is an exceptionally popular game, especially in India. The game’s mobile version, called PUBG Mobile, has become so addictive that many Indian states have banned the game completely fearing that it is turning children into psychopaths.
PUBG in India – a viral trend
In a March 20 editorial, one of India’s leading Hindi newspapers – the Navbharat Times – referred to PUBG in India as a “epidemic” that turned children into “manorogi,” or psychopaths. The publication said that the game has “dangerous consequences” and that many children have “lost their mental balance.”
PUBG is a battle royale game, where 100 players fight each other with machine guns and assault rifles. After Tencent Holdings came up with a mobile version of the game, the popularity of the game soared as it is a free-to-play title and almost every child has access to smartphones nowadays.
The popularity of PUBG in India can be gathered from the fact that a recent PUBG competition in the country got over 250,000 registrations from more than 1000 colleges across the country. The winner got a 1.5 million rupees ($22,000) prize.
Many cities in India have already banned the game. Police also arrested about ten university students for playing the game despite the ban. Even the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has recommended barring the game due to its violent nature.
Is there a need for a ban?
Such concerns regarding health issues of children are not unreal as well. There have been several incidents in the country that have given rise to such concerns over the game.
One recent incident was reported from the Indian state of Telangana, where a 20-year-old youngster suffered serious neck pain after playing the game constantly for 45 days. The boy was taken to the hospital where he died while undergoing treatment. As per the reports, nerves in his neck were completely damaged.
In another incident, a young boy failed an exam after he wrote about “how to play PUBG game” in his Economics exam answer sheet. In the exams last year, the boy secured distinction but lost track after he became addicted to the game.
“I was studious, but got attracted towards PUBG as it was entertaining, and soon got addicted to it,” the boy told The New Indian Express. “I got angry with myself and wrote about PUBG in the answer sheet.”
Another incident was reported from Madhya Pradesh, where a young man was so engrossed in playing PUBG that he drank acid, mistaking it for water. He was rushed to the hospital and is now out of danger.
In another recent incident, two persons playing the PUBG game were hit by a train. According to the reports, the two were playing the game near the railway tracks, where they were run over by the train.
In one incident a fitness trainer reportedly lost his mental balance after becoming addicted to the game. Reports are that he got injured after he started hitting himself with blows and was taken to the hospital. The doctors who attended the trainer say that he lost his mental balance and still appears to be under the influence of PUBG.
Moreover, a clinic that helps with curing addiction (run by India’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences) is witnessing several PUBG addiction cases per week. One 11-year-old boy came to the clinic recently with his parents, who complained that the boy wants to leave school to become a professional PUBG gamer.
Dr. Manoj Sharma, who oversees the clinic, says a ban is needed on underage players. “The addiction has reached never-before proportions,” he said, according to Bloomberg.
PUBG testing health reminders
Korea’s Bluehole, which made PUBG for PCs and also partnered with China’s Tencent for the mobile version of the game, said it is working with the concerned authorities to find a solution to the ban on PUBG in India. “We are working on the introduction of a healthy gameplay system in India to promote balanced, responsible gaming, including limiting play time for under-aged players,” the company said, as per Bloomberg.
It seems the game maker is working on ways to overcome the ban by limiting the number of hours a day players can play the game. Over the past few days, several players have complained of getting health reminders. This feature, if activated, stops a player from playing a game if he or she has been playing for too long. The Health Reminder feature stops the game and asks players to return after some time.
According to the players, the game asks them to sign up for “Health Reminders” if they are below 18 years. Once activated, the feature stops the game after about six hours. As per the players, there is no way to bypass this restriction. This feature, it seems, is still in the testing phase as not all users are seeing health reminders.