It’s violent, addictive and anti-social, affects physical and mental health, deprives people of sleep and robs them of their time; that’s what state’s cyber cell will tell the High Court in response to a petition seeking a ban on the game

The Mumbai police has prepared an exhaustive list of what exactly the combat game PUBG – that apparently has millions of users worldwide – is doing to your child, who could most likely be addicted to it. The list is part of a report recently prepared by the state cyber unit based on a month-long research on how this battle game is taking a toll on Mumbaikars, especially school and college-going students.

In early April, the Bombay High Court had directed the Union government to look into the PUBG Mobile game and take action accordingly after a PIL was filed against it by 11-year-old Mumbai resident Ahad Nizam through his mother. The PIL said PUBG Mobile promotes violence, aggression and cyber-bullying.

The state cyber unit recently prepared a report on the game following HC’s directive which was routed to them through the home ministry. The report, which will soon be produced before the court, has given seven reasons why PUBG should be banned. It has said that the game is extremely violent, leads to a gaming addiction, can make one less socially active, promotes bad physical health, affects mental health, disrupts sleep patterns and leaves one with no time to do anything else.

Accessible and addictive

Officials have claimed in the report that any attempt to ban this game will only generate curiosity among the people and add to its popularity. It further states the issue is not with the content of PUBG, which is similar to other video games, but the extreme addiction being developed by its players. The factors contributing to the addictiveness of the game are it launching at a time when smartphones are ubiquitous and data packs have become affordable, as well as the easy accessibility of the game, whose mobile version is also available for free.

Prior to this, PUBG Mobile has faced trouble in Gujarat, where it had been banned in cities like Rajkot, Ahmedabad and Himmatnagar. The ban has been lifted. The Vellore Institute of Technology in Tamil Nadu has banned the game, while Goa’s minister of information technology is seeking a ban on it.

Commenting on the game, Brijesh Singh, IG, state cyber cell, said, “There should be age and maturity appropriate content on any entertainment platform. However, I am not opposing a platform like PUBG.”

What is PUBG?

PUBG, which stands for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, is an online multiplayer game developed and published by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of South Korean video game company Bluehole. In the game, up to one hundred players parachute onto an island and scavenge for weapons and equipment to kill others while avoiding getting killed themselves. The available safe area of the game’s map decreases in size over time, directing surviving players into tighter areas to force encounters. The last player or team standing wins the round.

Doctor says

Dr. Alpes Panchal, consultant psychiatrist and de-addiction specialist said, “Any computer simulated game, which gives us rewards leads to an increase in a chemical called dopamine in the brain, which is the pleasure hormone. This dopamine increase makes us seek more rewards. This is the cycle of addiction. And the same cycle gets activated in substance addiction, internet addiction, gaming addiction, food or any other kind of addiction. Panchal says children getting easily hooked to the ‘reward system dopamine cycle’ is what is making PUBG dangerous. However, he says, “My opinion is against any sort of ban because it curtails freedom of expression. There are ways and means to tackle addictive things.”

Gaming experts opine

Tanuj Sehgal, who produces games at a gaming company said, “We make games for everyone to enjoy. Letting oneself get addicted to a game is a personal choice…Games are designed to give players experiences they may never have. What we make is purely for entertainment and enjoyment. Game makers cannot change the way an individual thinks.”

Nirav Sanghvi, game developer at Appstack Digital said, “The psyche of the player is the most important thing while developing such games. The games are that aggressive to go with their themes. The idea is to keep players engaged with the gaming environment, keep them from leaving the platform and provide incentives to keep playing.

‘Can’t blame PUBG’

Rohan Shetty, HR

‘Average time of a single PUBG game is 20 minutes. I invest four hours on weekends playing this game. The thing I love about it is making strategies and defeating others’

Rahul Rujhwani,

entrepreneur

‘I play this game on weekends with my friends.I have also seen this game helping people cut down on their smoking habit as they are completely engrossed in the game. There are a lot of people who also are earning by entering tournaments [for the game] conducted internationally. Few others earn by playing live on YouTube’

Nikhil Nambiar,

entrepreneur

‘If you talk about children playing this game, it is addictive and can cause a distraction for their studies. But you can’t blame the game for it. Parents need to encourage their children to go out and play. If not PUBG, your child might get addicted to some other game until they have a mobile phone’

Shalini Singh,

operations head at MNC

‘I play the game regularly during office breaks, or at home and with my friends. We’ve even made a WhatsApp group to play it together. My parents get annoyed when I’m on the phone, but it does not matter now because playing the game gives me a kick’

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