US Sanctions Anger Iranian ‘World of Warcraft’ Gamers, US Treasury Department Weighs In

For citizens of Iran, brutal American sanctions could mean the end of the world…

…of Warcraft. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Sanctions by the United States, it seems, have hit World of Warcraft.

WikimediaWikimediaIranian gamers took to the World of Warcraft message board…complaining that they had been shut out of the online game. “Well, as if life of an Iranian couldn’t get worse, the Battle.net became completely inaccessible as of today,” one World of Warcraft fan wrote in frustration.

Another lamented, “Well we had a good run, Goodbye cruel world…”

The year’s salvo of US and international sanctions, aimed at choking off Tehran’s controversial nuclear program, have throttled the Iranian economy (see: plummeting oil exports), ravaging major industries like transportation and emergency civilian health care along the way.

The online role-playing game is merely the latest casualty in this drawn-out geopolitical fight.

For those unfamiliar with WoW—the online global phenomenon that involves engaging with Orcs and doing battle with throngs of complete strangers—here’s a quick refresher:

Blizzard Entertainment, the California-based video game developers who debuted the WoW series in 2004, recently explained that the Iranian gamer black-out was required to stay in compliance with US law. “We apologize for any inconvenience this causes and will happily lift these restrictions as soon as U.S. law allows,” one employee wrote.

Late last week, the US Department of the Treasury begrudgingly weighed in on the subject of pwning n00bs in Persian society. John Sullivan, a media affairs specialist at Treasury, told the Times that “clearly the focus of our sanctions is not on video games.” (He went on to note that the department would “consider a license request from Blizzard Entertainment should they choose to apply for one.”)

The World of Warcraft universe includes roughly 9.1 million subscribers worldwide, an 11-percent drop from 10.2 million in March 2012. The game also holds the 2009 Guinness World Record for the most popular multiplayer role-playing game.

There have also been numerous studies on the severity of video game addiction, with some rating World of Warcraft as addicting as cocaine. Pity the Iranians going through withdrawl.

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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