IGN, PC Gamer, New York Times Spread Fake News About Saudi Arabia Banning Games
Saudi Arabia Game Ban

The Associated Press published a story on July 16th, 2018 titled “Saudi Arabia Bans Many Video Games After Children’s Deaths”. The article states that Saudi Arabia banned 47 games in the wake of a 13-year-old girl and 12-year-old boy committing suicide. The article linked their deaths to a social media game called Blue Whale. The Associated Press did not provide any additional information about the bans or the connection between the suicides and the alleged censorship.

Others republished or reiterated the news from the Associated Press, including the New York Times, PC Gamer, The Hollywood Reporter, The Washington Post, and IGN, amongst many others.

Each of them linked the suicides to Blue Whale and reported that the 47 games had been banned in result of or in connection with the suicides, without first gaining any confirmation from the Saudi General Commission for Audio-Visual Media.

It turns out that the reports about the games being banned in result of the suicide are all fake news.

Ubisoft’s head of communication for the United Arab Emirates, Malek Teffaha, attempted to correct the record and get media outlets to amend or retract the stories, notifying them that the games had already been banned and it had nothing to do with Blue Whale or the child suicides.

After Malek reached out to media to correct the record, only one website updated their post and retracted the article, GamesIndustry.biz.

The first report of the suicide came from someone close to the family on June 28th, 2018, confirming that the boy had passed.

If you follow the Twitter thread you’ll discover that the user relays that the father blamed Disney’s The Magic Kingdoms for causing his son to become addicted, after spending inordinate amounts of time with it.

The reports about the boy’s suicide began to spread by June 30th, 2018, with sites like Al Arabiya providing insight into the tragedy. They did mention the Blue Whale, but nothing about the other games.

The second suicide didn’t occur until July 9th, 2018, as noted by Arabic social media outlet Breaking News.

The Splintering did an article about the fallout, explaining that many of the 47 games had already been previously banned and were “legacy” bans, well before the reports about the suicides were made public.

This is actually corroborated by the Saudi Gamer outlet, which recently reported on the misreporting by IGN, Newsweek, The New York Times, Associated Press, and PC Gamer. Saudi Gamer also corroborated the story about the father blaming Disney’s The Magic Kingdoms, along with publishing a press statement from Gameloft, the publishers of The Magic Kingdoms.

In fact, Saudi Gamer had previously reported on the bans a week before the Associated Press published the news about the suicides.

Back on July 10th, 2018 the Saudi outlet updated gamers in the Middle-East that the new God of War wasn’t in the updated list of banned games in the Saudi region. This gave them hope that the game would be properly localized and released in the UAE region.

Saudi Gamer’s news report about the updated ban list came from the GMAC website, which was actually updated with the list of new game bans back on July 2nd, 2018.

So the ban list was updated just two days after the news reports began to surface about the first suicide, and it was updated an entire week before the second suicide even occurred.

What’s more is that the list contains many of the same games that were already banned since before 2017. There’s actually an archive of the list from March, 2017 that reveals that many of the 47 games that were added to the list on July 2nd, 2018 were already on the previous ban list from March, 2017.

Here’s the old list from 2017:

Grand Theft Auto جميع الاجزاء جميع الاجهزه
2 ​Dante’s Inferno   جميع الاجهزه
3 Homefront   جميع الاجهزه
4 God of War جميع الاجزاء جميع الاجهزه
5 Far Cry جميع الاجزاء جميع الاجهزه
6 Mafia II   جميع الاجهزه
7 Red Dead Redemption   جميع الاجهزه
8 Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare   جميع الاجهزه
9 Resident Evil 6 الجزء السادس فقط جميع الاجهزه
10 Saints Row جميع الاجزاء جميع الاجهزه
11 Sleeping Dogs   جميع الاجهزه
12 Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition   جميع الاجهزه
13 Payday 2   جميع الاجهزه
14 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand   جميع الاجهزه
15 Clash of The Titans   جميع الاجهزه
16 Fable جميع الاجزاء جميع الاجهزه
17 Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2   جميع الاجهزه
18 Heavy Rain   جميع الاجهزه
19 Resistance 2   جميع الاجهزه
20 Resistance 3   جميع الاجهزه
21 SplatterHouse   جميع الاجهزه
22 The Saboteur   جميع الاجهزه
23 Assassin’s Creed II   جميع الاجهزه
24 Ninja Gaiden 3   جميع الاجهزه
25 Metro Redux   جميع الاجهزه
26 Thief   جميع الاجهزه
27 Wolfenstein: The New Order   جميع الاجهزه
28 Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z   جميع الاجهزه
29 The Order: 1886   جميع الاجهزه
30 DMC Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition   جميع الاجهزه
31 Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster   جميع الاجهزه
32 Final Fantasy Type-0 HD   جميع الاجهزه
33 Watch Dogs   جميع الاجهزه
34 Mortal Kombat X   جميع الاجهزه
35 Dragon Age: Inquisition جميع الاجهزه
36 Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker جميع الاجهزه
37 The Last of US جميع الاجزاء جميع الاجهزه
38 Hitman جميع الاجزاء جميع الاجهزه
39 The Witcher جميع الاجزاء جميع الاجهزه
40 Home World Remastered Collection   جميع الاجهزه
41 The Walking Dead Season Two   جميع الاجهزه
42 The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited   جميع الاجهزه
43 Dead Rising 3 Apocalypse   جميع الاجهزه
44 Deception IV Nightmare Princess   جميع الاجهزه
45 Dishonored Definitive Edition   جميع الاجهزه
46 Halo 4 Game of the Year Edition GOTY   جميع الاجهزه
47 Samurai Warriors 4-II   جميع الاجهزه
48 Might & Magic Heroes VII   جميع الاجهزه
49 Guitar Hero Live   جميع الاجهزه
50 Guild Wars 2 Heart   جميع الاجهزه
51 Metal Gear Solider The Phantom Pain   جميع الاجهزه
52 Yo Kai Watch   جميع الاجهزه
53 Fallout 4   جميع الاجهزه
54 Worms Global Worming   جميع الاجهزه
55 DeadPool   جميع الاجهزه
56 Street Fighter V   جميع الاجهزه
57 DEVIL’S THIRD   جميع الاجهزه
58 AR NO SURGE   جميع الاجهزه
59 UFC 2   جميع الاجهزه
60 ONE PIECE BURNING BLOOD   جميع الاجهزه
61 PRISON ARCHITECT   جميع الاجهزه
62 DEUS EX MANKIND DIVIDED DAY ONE EDITION   جميع الاجهزه
63 Resident Evil 5   جميع الاجهزه​​​​​​​

​​​

And here’s the updated list from 2018:

1 Agents of Mayhem
2 Assassins Creed 2
3 Attack on titan 2
4 Bayonetta 2
5 Clash of the Titans
6 Dante’s Inferno
7 Dead Rising 3 Apocalypse Edition
8 Deadpool
9 Deception IV : The Nightmare Proncess
10 Deus Ex Mankind Divided
11 Devils Third
12 DmC – Defiitive edition
13 Dragon Age: Inquisition
14 Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
15 Draw to Death
16 Final Fantasy Dissidia
17 Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2
18 God of War 1
19 God of War 2
20 God of War 3
21 Grand Theft Auto V
22 Heavy Rain
23 Hitman: Absolution (2012)
24 Life is Strange
25  Mafia 2
26 Mafia 3
27 Metro Redux
28 Okami
29 One Piece Burning Blood
30 Past Cure
31 Prison Architect
32 Resident Evil 5
33 Resident Evil 6
34 Saints Row IV
35 SplatterHouse
36 Street Fighter V
37 Street Fighter 30th Anniversary
38  The Order 1886
39 The Saboteur
40 The Witcher 3
41 The Nonary Game
42 Thief
43 Vampyr
44 Watch Dogs
45 Wolfenstein 2
46 Wolfenstein: The New Order
47 YO-KAI WATCH

 

As you can see, there’s a lot of crossover… so it’s rather obvious that 47 games were not banned in result of the suicide, since some of these games have already been banned for a year.

Additionally, the fake news spreading about the games being banned in result of Blue Whale and the suicides is already at the top of Google News.



Essentially, Google is still working hand-in-hand with spreading propaganda and fake news, with absolutely no means of recourse.

Some of the commenters on sites like PC Gamer have called them out, but as of the writing of this article, none of the major websites have retracted their articles nor updated them to reflect the facts of the situation.

This is why #GamerGate exists.

I did reach out to the GCAM for clarification of the ban list being updated. If they choose to respond the article will be updated to reflect their response.


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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

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