Uzbekistan bans video games over 'distorting values'

Image source, AFP

Uzbekistan has banned a long list of computer games deemed to be "distorting values" and "threatening stability".

The list includes several violent games but also global hits like Grand Theft Auto and innocuous classics like The Sims.

The ban makes it illegal to import and distribute the games across the central Asian country.

Reactions online have been swift and range from ridicule and anger to genuine support.

Why the ban?

Authorities say the games could be "used to propagate violence, pornography, threaten security and social and political stability".

There is also concern they might disturb "civil peace and inter-ethnic and inter-religious harmony".

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Assassin's Creed: too dangerous for young Uzbeks?

Another reason given is the potential "distribution of false information about Uzbekistan and the distortion of its historic, cultural and spiritual values."

The ban is a continuation of the government's efforts to keep young people away from influences that it deems "destructive".

Which games are on the list?

The list of 34 games ranges from ego-shooters to horror or erotic games and has been approved by a government commission.

It also includes global hits like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (GTA), Call of Duty: Black Ops, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat and Doom.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Perhaps surprisingly, the list also contains The Sims

The list even contains apparently innocuous games The Sims, a life simulation game series which is one of the best-selling video games series of all time.

Most of the games are widely popular and readily available in internet cafes across the country or as pirated Russian-language copies on DVD.

What's the online reaction?

Social media is rife with commentary about the ban. Overwhelmingly, there's been condemnation and ridicule for what many users describe as a "foolish" move.

"They want to cultivate patriotism in the youth, yet the ban will only make things worse," writes one user identified as danilakhaidarov.

Others are criticising the measure as a waste of time and effort when there are serious economic and social problems that need tackling.

But there's also support: Facebook user Azizbek Inoyatov posts that the ban is "right; we should not be filling our minds with violence."

User 'maksuda_umurzakova' comments that "it is high time! Those who do not like it can go to those countries where all this... is normal!"

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