Turkey's government has in the past banned social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, but apparently it now has a new field in its sights - the video game industry.

The Turkish Family and Social Policies Ministry launched an initiative to ban the massively popular video game Minecraft, which has players explore and build a world of their own imagination in a blocky, fantastical terrain.

Given that some levels have players fight unrealistic zombies and spiders, the ministry's Children Services General Directorate last month told its legal affairs department to start the process to ban Minecraft to protect children from "violence," reports the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.

In response, a petition has been launched by Turkish academics on change.org, with 24 academics from local universities signing on.

The petition, published by the Turkish branch of Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA), urges that "computer games should be regarded in the scope of freedom of speech. Limitations and pressures put on gaming culture with a censorship approach cannot be accepted."

In Europe and much of the world Minecraft is rated for players aged seven and older and enjoys high popularity, with the 100 millionth user registered this February.

Responding to the talk of a Turkish ban, a representative of Mojang, the video game developer based in Stockholm that is behind Minecraft, told GamesBeat that the issue of "violence" can be solved by simply changing the game settings.

"The world of Minecraft can be a dangerous place: it’s inhabited by scary, genderless monsters that come out at night. It might be necessary to defend against them to survive," said the representative.

The Mojang spokesperson added, "if people find this level of fantasy conflict upsetting, we would encourage them to play in Creative Mode, or to enable the Peaceful setting. Both of these options will prevent monsters from appearing in the world."

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