A 12-year-old Egyptian boy died on Monday from a sudden heart attack having played the online game known as PUBG for hours without rest, according to local media reports.
The child was admitted to Al-Salam Hospital in Port Said however the Emergency Department at the Health Directorate confirmed he had died before reaching hospital.
The statement added that the coroner’s preliminary examination had attributed the cause of death to a sudden increase in blood pressure due to being overweight.
According to Egypt Independent, the child’s parents found his body next to his mobile phone, with the PUBG game still running. An investigation is said to be underway, but the prosecution has ruled out a causal relation between the popular game and the child’s death, it did note he was addicted to playing it. The prosecution referred to previous cases where children had passed away or were hurt because of “playing such games”.
In 2018 an Egyptian teacher was stabbed to death several times by her 16-year-old student who claimed the PUBG game led him to commit the crime, stating that killing people is one of the game’s main goals and imagined he was present in the game. Last year, a 14-year-old Egyptian boy stabbed his friend after a fight ensued between them over the game.
Al-Azhar, the highest religious institution in the country, has since issued a warning against the harm of online gaming to young children and republished its fatwa prohibiting playing PUBG citing previous deaths it says were linked to playing the game. It advised parents to monitor children around the clock, checking the mobile apps they use, limiting the time they spend on their devices and encouraging other activities such as sports and studying.
Al-Ahram reports that in spite of the fatwa from Al-Azhar, PUBG is currently the second-most downloaded game in the country’s version of Apple’s iOS app store. PUBG, abbreviated from Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, is a multiplayer game that has gained huge popularity in its mobile app version, with hundreds of millions of downloads across the world.
The game has also gained notoriety across the Middle East. It is banned in Jordan and a report from last year noted how parents in the UAE demanded it be banned as it is a “bad influence on youth”. Last year, the Iraqi parliament voted to ban PUBG and other popular online games such as Fortnite citing the negative influence on young people. Influential Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr who is head of a powerful political bloc also urged the government to ban the game, calling it addictive.
“What will you gain if you killed one or two people in PUBG? It is not a game for intelligence or a military game that provides you with the correct way to fight,” he wrote in a two-page statement.
An Islamic religious authority in the Kurdistan Region ruled it haram (forbidden) to play PUBG for over “a few minutes” per day, or if playing it impedes a participant’s daily responsibilities.
There have also been reports of Iraqi soldiers addicted to the game causing them to neglect their duties in the battlefield, raising concerns of security breaches as the risks posed by Daesh remain in the country.