Minecraft is too darn violent.
This is the conclusion Turkey’s Family and Social Policies Ministry came to after investigating the megapopular block-building game (as first reported by Hurriyet Daily News). As a result, that government agency wants to ban Minecraft. The ministry claims that the open-world game encourages children to resort to violence against enemies and animals. The report goes on to claim that children who play Minecraft are in danger of “social isolation.” The ministry is now petitioning the government’s legal department to go forth with the process to ban Minecraft. The country has a history of blocking websites that it finds offensive. It has previously prevented access to the image-sharing message board 4Chan, the website of atheist author Richard Dawkins, and — on occasion — Google’s video site, YouTube.
Turkey does not have a reputation for limiting the sale of video games. It has a bustling mobile-gaming market that is growing north of $500 million. And while most people play online in Internet cafes, the big consoles makers are also sell their systems in the country. So it is out of character for the country to take action against something like Minecraft — although it maybe felt compelled to do so since the game has such a grip on children.
Minecraft is one of the most popular games in the world as well as in Turkey — especially among children. Last year, developer Mojang and its founder, Markus “Notch” Persson, sold Minecraft to Microsoft for $2.5 billion. It is widely seen as a creative outlet that enables young people to explore a virtual world while building structures and tools. If Turkey does go through with a ban, it will go down as the first country to do so when it comes to Minecraft.
“Minecraft is enjoyed by many players in a wide variety of ways,” a Mojang spokesperson told GamesBeat. “Many enjoy the creative freedom that’s presented by Minecraft and its tools, some are more interested by the opportunity to explore a landscape without boundaries and to go on exciting adventures with friends. We encourage players to cooperate in order to succeed, whether they’re building, exploring, or adventuring. The world of Minecraft can be a dangerous place: it’s inhabited by scary, genderless monsters that come out at night. It might be necessary to defend against them to survive. If people find this level of fantasy conflict upsetting, we would encourage them to play in Creative Mode, or to enable the Peaceful setting. Both of these options will prevent monsters from appearing in the world.”
Turkey’s family ministry does acknowledge the creative aspects of Minecraft, but the report claims that players must kill hostile creatures in order to protect their creations, which isn’t true of the Peaceful and Creative modes mentioned by Microsoft. But the Turkish government insists the game is “based on violence, and that is an issue for the family ministry because they view Minecraft as exclusively for children.
To enact a ban, a Turkish court will have to agree with the Family and Social Policy Ministry’s findings. It will then, likely, enforce a block on Minecraft.net, which is required to play the game.
Turkey has already blocked more than 67,000 websites. Those include the aforementioned 4Chan.org, which the country blocked for violating obscenity laws, and RichardDawkins.net, which Turkey blocked for allegedly defaming a book about creationism. The country has also censored parts of different webpages. For example, people who look up “vagina” or “human penis” on Wikipedia will get a modified entry.
The country has also had a slow shift to the political and religious right in recent years. An example of this is its military deciding to prohibit students in its academies from viewing HBO’s fantasy series Game of Thrones.