When it comes to war it seems that gaming and real life have become one, with US trade sanctions preventing game developer Blizzard from selling their hugely popular ‘World of Warcraft’ series in Iran.
The on-line multi-player game set in the mythical Warcraft universe is played the world over with more than nine million people subscribed and a Guinness World record for the most popular game of its kind. It has also proven to be one of the most obsession-inducing games in history, with players of the game often sacrificing their real lives to live as their avatars in the fantasy world, competing remotely and communicating frequently over Blizzard’s net forums. The sanctions are not restricted to Iran but do form part of on-going action that seeks to put economic pressure on the Islamic nation that refuses to declare the details of its disputed nuclear program.
Players in Iran were not warned of the cut-off and suddenly ‘lost access to the game’ last week, according to bbc.com. Posting messages to Blizzard’s board, players complained that they were only able to access the game using a proxy server outside Iran. Responding to complaints and queries, Blizzard released a statement that they were unable to do business in certain regions – “This week, Blizzard tightened up its procedures to ensure compliance with these laws, and players connecting from the affected nations are restricted from access to Blizzard games and services.” Unfortunately US regulations also prevent them from refunding players or allowing them to continue to use their account elsewhere but they ensured their customers that this was regrettable on their part – “We apologise for any inconvenience this causes and will happily lift these restrictions as soon as US law allows,” it added.
Aside from forming part of a broader campaign to limit business with Iran, the nature of the game could also be behind the new restrictions. The game ‘Guild Wars’ has also been blocked, redirecting players to a page that claims the game has been removed because it promoted ‘superstition and mythology’. Blizzard however, have stated that they have no information to suggest that the combative nature of the game, the elements of fantasy and mythology or the storyline have anything to do with their inclusion in the restrictions.