OPINION: Digital Media Sanctions Only Punish The Innocent

Disclaimer: this article is an opinion piece of the author and not of Underlevelled as a whole, these views are mine and mine alone and should not be considered the official stance of the site. I in no way support Russia or the decisions made by their government, this is just an opinion about particular decisions being made by external companies in regards to the ongoing situation in Eastern Europe.

It’s completely underselling the devastation war inflicts on the innocent populations of those involved to even try to summarise it in an introduction for this article. Those that have lived through war in the last few decades will know and those of us that are lucky enough to avoid it couldn’t even imagine the strife and hardship that they have to endure. It’s no question that civilians on both sides are being affected the most by these events, but today I wanted to discuss the sanctions being placed on the invasive forces.

The Russian eShop is indefinitely down for maintenance

I’m not disputing that sanctions themselves are bad, in a lot of cases they are absolutely necessary and stand to inhibit and deny vital resources to the enemy forces, but in some cases, the only ones that stand to lose anything are the innocent. Take digital media, for example. Movies, video games, music, and literature. These forms of escapism help nearly every one of us that accesses them, whether it be to deal with day-to-day stress or just a need to be engrossed in another world or story where your problems appear to be trivial. Now imagine you’re a citizen of a nation who wants no part in the destruction being wreaked from above and suddenly the forms of escapism you’ve utilised in the past are slowly being taken from you.

I’m not sure what the motive behind Nintendo or Microsoft’s removal of digital games sales is, whether it’s to slow down their economy or cause internal revolt and bring riots, or whether it’s something a lot more complicated than that. As someone who has been fortunate enough to avoid war, I cannot even comprehend the logistical advantage that Russian citizens being unable to purchase new copies of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe brings but it seems to me that Putin’s unlikely to even notice these things are taking place.

I don’t intend to start arguments with this article, I see the decisions of Nintendo and other industry giants and I don’t understand why there is such contempt towards the innocent people of foreign nations. Our blame should solely be pointed at the upper echelon of the foreign government for making these decisions and allowing this to happen in the first place. The people in these countries cannot simply riot and protest against these decisions through fear of death and persecution so when their escapism is stripped from them what else is there to do for them than be slowly brainwashed by the selected media of the government that paints the rest of the world as evil harbingers of war. It’s clear that countless companies are jumping on the same bandwagon of dropping support for the region so as to not be “the one company that still sells in Russia”, but in some cases like this, it doesn’t feel inherently necessary.

If you’d like to help Ukraine citizens during this difficult time please consider purchasing the Itch.io Ukraine bundle here

Video game completionist and 3D platformer connoisseur, Riley is a fan of the whimsical frenzy of bright and colourful characters to bless us in the late 90's. Their favourite game's are Spyro, Persona 5 and Super Mario Sunshine.

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