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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In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

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