Popular computer game Minecraft is facing an investigation in Turkey following allegations that it’s too violent.
The country’s family and social policies minister, Aysenur Islam, voiced concern about Minecraft’s content after speaking with press outside Turkish parliament on Friday when a reporter suggested that it depicts violence against women and could promote aggression by awarding points for killing characters in the game. However, gaming experts say the investigation is unfounded.
“[We] will examine the game and see if there is an element of violence,” Islam said, adding that the investigation could result in a nationwide ban, Turkish website Haberturk reports.
With over one million players worldwide, Minecraft is often considered one of the less-violent games on the market compared to ones such as Halo and Call of Duty. It has been approved for children aged seven and older in most of Europe, and 10 and older in the United States.
“Minecraft is one of the last games I would think would be banned based on violent content,” says Jonathan Jordan, UK editor of Games™ Magazine.
Although players do have the ability to attack the ‘villager’ characters in the game, Jordan says that it is not something the game instructs you to do. He does not recall seeing blood in the game either.
“Minecraft is no more violent than the Lord of the Rings films,” he said. “There are swords, bows and arrows, but most of the attacking is against monsters and creatures rather than human beings.”
Rather than promote violence, Jordan argues that Minecraft actually encourages a different, more creative gaming experience. “If anything, Minecraft has pushed things the other way, giving players the power to create rather than fight,” he said.
Dr Andrew Przybylski, an experimental psychologist and research fellow from the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University, agrees with Jordan’s description of the game. “Thinking of investigating Minecraft for being violent is the equivalent of ordering an investigation into violent Lego playing.”
Dr Przybylski, who has conducted research on videogames and violence, says that Minecraft is an exploration and crafting game that “is in no way realistically violent,” adding that “truly violent video games are ones that set you up against violent people”.
Censorship has become increasingly common in Turkey in recent years, with measures being taken to restrict or ban content on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Last year, the Turkish army banned Game of Thrones from being screened in their military schools after deciding it was unsuitable for their young recruits.