Gamers playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) on their phones are now being arrested across India.
A report published on Monday analysed the widespread popularity of PUBG in India, as well as the government’s efforts to contain it. The story was centred on four boys arrested for simply playing the game in a public space after a ban was placed on it in the city of Ahmedabad.
Authorities stated the game was a compelling distraction from school work and academics, which was one of the main reasons behind it being banned. Some have even blamed a handful of deaths on the game. Moreover, some parents have alleged that the game encouraged violent and aggressive behaviour in their children.
PUBG is credited for being the game to bring about the recent popularity of battle royale in the gaming industry. 100 players are airdropped onto an island and tasked with scavenging for weapons and supplies in a quest to be the last one standing. Despite other similar games coming into existence since PUBG’s launch, it was observed to be regaining popularity with a mobile release last year. According to market analysis from Sensor Tower, this mobile version ostensibly made $65 million in March alone.
BuzzFeed’s report states that officers were already looking for young people in public places holding their phones in landscape mode, which is considered a definite indication of them playing the outlawed game. It was banned in the Indian state of Gujarat in early March, which resulted in a separate arrest of 10 students that made international headlines.
Despite many of those charged with publicly playing the game being let off with warnings or small fines, others spent nights in jail for it. Even without severe punishment for playing the game, the report highlighted the trauma behind being arrested and the stigma surrounding it as residing effects of the laws.
The Gujarati cities of Ahmedabad and Rajkot eventually lifted the bans in April and May, respectively. Nevertheless, BuzzFeed’s report demonstrates an interesting perspective on a country where mobile gaming only relatively recently became widely accessible, and the struggles the government faces in dealing with the changes it brought about.
This article originally appeared on Mashable.