People, especially older people, have had a lot of issues with Fortnite, whether it’s about children spending too much money in it or just the nature of the game itself. (“So you’re a banana and you shoot Thanos?”) We’ve documented a few of these troubles (here and here), but Indonesia might be banning it for reasons unrelated to its all-encompassing popularity or addictive nature.
The South China Morning Post is reporting that the country’s Tourism and Creative Economy Minister, Sandiaga Uno, has branded the game as “blasphemous” due to a viral video that shows a Fortnite player wielding a scythe and walking around an area that resembles the Great Mosque of Mecca, the Masjid al-Haram, as well as the Kaaba, which Muslims around the world face as they kneel for their daily prayers.
The video in question has been in circulation since 2019.
Sandiaga said that the Kaaba-like structure “must be destroyed by the players in order to earn new weapons and level up” and instructed his staff to research the game to discover whether it should be banned from the country. According to Fortnite’s Middle Eastern representatives, the Kaaba in the game was made by a fan in creative mode and doesn’t exist in the game’s official version.
We’ve known for a long time that games that allow users to create their own content run the risk of producing something offensive — “TTP” or “time to penis” was a phrase that was coined to estimate how long after such tools were offered that it would take for someone to produce something resembling genitalia. Basic obscenities and vulgarities are the sorts of things that game developers usually stamp out quickly, but maybe they need to expand their scope to potentially blasphemous religious iconography, especially if something like this has been out in the wild for two years.