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There is a panic that's sweeping Iran. Gamers have found out that their World of Warcraft accounts are now casualties of the United States's embargoes and sanctions against Iran. Blizzard, the company that runs the popular multiplayer game, wrote in a statement: "United States trade restrictions and economic sanction laws prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran." They add, "This week, Blizzard tightened up its procedures to ensure compliance with these laws, and players connecting from the affected nations are restricted from access to Blizzard games and services." Bummer. And there's a double bummer here since Blizzard said that refunds, credits, transfers, and other services cannot be provided to accounts in Iran or other countries where U.S. sanctions are intact (an expansion to World of Warcraft entitled Mists of Pandaria is set to come out on September 25).

This being World of Warcraft, and World of Warcraft being addictive as it is, messages posted on Blizzard's forums started to sound as if a natural disaster had befallen the country inspiring frenzied messages like this one: 

The actual thread of the message (as you can see) extends about 126 pages. According to Blizzard, there are about 9.1 million paying subscribers to World of Warcraft, but it's hard to tell just how many of those players are in Iran. Adding another layer of conspiracy is that some gamers believe that the Iranian government is also partly responsible for this (no not because of its ties with Syria and continuous threats against peace) outage. The Verge's Samit Sarkar reported on August 22 that a government pamphlet was issued and detailed offensive content within the game. The offenses include: 

  1. Promotion of superstition and mythology
  2. Promotion of violence due to too much violence (I'm not exaggerating this is exactly what they wrote).
  3. Abolishing the deformation in sin.
  4. Demonstration of inappropriate clothing and slutty outfits for female avatars.

Regardless of the reason and conspiracy theories behind the ban, the fact is that no one's playing.  The only way around this ban, as Epoch Times' Jack Phillips notes, is to use proxy servers that have IP addresses outside Iran. If you are (not) playing in Iran and can't figure out that proxy server thing, the one thing you should probably avoid is looking for sympathy on Blizzard's forums where human mages can be so cruel (and full of sic). 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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