BBC bias?


Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds was officially released just two months ago. Yet not everyone is happy. Indeed, the Kurdistan Union of Scholars in Iraq has issued a fatwa against the video game. The main contention being the amount of time participants spend playing it. Wasting time, argue clerics, is anti-Islamic. There have already been reports of one Iraqi woman seeking a divorce due to her husband’s apparent addiction to the game.
The BBC were the first to break this story. Their report also featured an Iraqi religious scholar who did not support the fatwa; on the grounds that untold interference of this kind was not allowing the young generation to simply be. This, of course, is a legitimate point about the encroachment of the religious right in the public sphere; something that Pakistanis understand only too well. That being said, it is nonetheless unfortunate that the Beeb chose to frame this as a simple question of conservative versus liberal Muslims.
For in the West, too, there is much debate on the impact of prolonged gaming on mental health; particularly when it comes to children. In fact, over the summer, the British media reported the disturbing case of a nine-year-old so addicted to Fortnite that she would end up playing the video game for 10-hour stretches at a time; even soiling herself along the way. She ended up in a rehabilitation facility. And back in 2007, the then Gordon Brown government commissioned the Byron report to look into the potential long-term effects of violent games to determine whether this translated into increased aggression in the non-virtual world. The conclusion was largely affirmative. Yet there was no mention of this representing a battle between conservative and liberal values.
Battlegrounds, the brainchild of Irish video game designer Brendan Greene, is, in its own words, a multiple player platform. Accommodating up to one hundred members at a time; all of whom engage in a large-scale fight to the death as they search for weapons as safe zones continuously diminish. Admittedly, the Kurdish Union of Scholars did not focus on this element. But given the brutality that Iraqis have been subjected to since the US-UK war of aggression in their county some 15 years ago — this may not be entirely surprising. Nevertheless, the bottom line appears to coincide with expert views that too much time spent engaging in such virtual warfare is neither healthy for brain nor emotional development.
That the BBC chose to ignore this narrative lends certain credence to dissenting voices at home that charge it with clear-cut bias; particularly when it comes to covering parts of the Muslim world that have fallen prey to western military intervention. This is most unfortunate.