It seems like the kind of headline you’d read on The Onion: A sovereign nation wants to ban Minecraft. You expect to open it to read about children punching trees or preventing a Creeper infestation, but Turkey’s attempt to ban Minecraft is very real… and very confusing.
First, let’s look at the official reasons, as summed up by Kotaku. The Turkish Family and Social Policies Ministry has decided that because you fight Creepers in the game, children might be stupid enough to mistake that for real life. Also, you can hurt animals! The children might see a square sheep and light it on fire! And it’s on the internet, so there might be cyberbullying, and the kids might not go outside and spend time with the other children!
We’ve heard all of this before; in fact it’s practically taken word-for-word not from legal proceedings involving video games in the U.S., but from much older attempts to censor media for the children. The fact that they’re throwing every cliche at this, not to mention including one or two trendy points for governments to be concerned about, makes you wonder what’s actually going on here.
Turkey has no shortage of problems, being it’s right next to two countries involved in civil war, and it’s increasingly clear the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to enjoy all the benefits of a Western economy while removing any benefits of a Western society, like free speech. This has shades of Turkey’s attempt to ban Twitter; 67,000 websites have been blocked, at least officially, since then.
This could simply be a dimwitted bureaucrat doing what they do, or it could be an attempt to shut down another avenue for Turks to communicate. It’s worth noting this ban has to go through the Turkish courts, and may not survive there, especially if they boot up the game. But as ridiculous as this ban seems to us, it looks like it’s just a small part of a larger problem.