Microsoft is officially looking into reports that the Turkish government is planning to ban Minecraft. Allegedly, the game encourages children to resort to violence, become isolated and kill small animals – all things the Turkish Family and Social Policies Ministry finds offensive.
The Ministry forwarded the report to Turkey’s legal affairs department, commenting that children who play the game might not be able to tell the difference between the real world and the blocky virtual setting of the game, and they will lack an understanding of what they are doing. The report also included information on how to legally ban the game – including seeking approval from the Turkish court, and applying a block to Minecraft.net.
Although the game can be seen as encouraging creativity in children by letting them build houses, farmlands and bridges, mobs [hostile creatures] must be killed in order to protect these structures. In short, the game is based on violence.
…fans of the game have taken to social media to express their displeasure with the announcement, even wondering whether the report is actually trying to ban Minecraft over the inclusion of pigs and pork – both of which are banned in Islamic diets.
Developer Mojang has officially responded to the claims:
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.
Fatih Öke, a spokesperson for the Turkish Embassy based in Washington D.C., tells Christian Science Monitor that a ban is “quite out of the question”.
The game is not banned and is not going to be banned, the Family and Social Policy Ministry does not have that kind of authority to ban any product. I understand that this is what has been said in the Turkish media, but it is incorrect.
He goes on to explain that the Family and Social Policy Ministry has reportedly received “numerous” complaints from parents about the effect Minecraft is having on their children. The Ministry’s function, he says, is to “raise awareness”, rather than make decisions. However, it does have the power to compel content creators – such as Microsoft and Mojang – to make modifications to that content as a result of complaints. This could potentially see a low-violence version of Minecraft released for Turkish audiences.
If that does turn out to be the recommended course of action, Mojang has a solution ready:
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.
Potentially, a Turkish-specific version could have either of these two modes hardwired into the game, with any violent options removed – a relatively simple fix, if Microsoft is officially asked for one.