A new mobile game is taking the Gulf by storm and has sparked debates for it to be banned in Saudi Arabia and Oman.
The game 'Mariam' has also trended on Twitter over the past two days with the Arabic hashtag #لعبة_مريم (Mariam's game).
The game caused a stir because it asks some personal and even political questions which raised worries amongst users that it may illicitly capture personal files within one’s phone.
The game created by app developer, Salman Al Harbi, is a serial text-option game where the user is asked multiple-choice questions.
It starts with a white haired girl standing against a dark background. The player is meant to escort the girl to her home before hiding from her father, who is suspected by users to be the skeleton figure present in the game’s thumbnail.
During the conversation with Mariam, the child informs players about trending news to demonstrate that it can read minds. At a certain point, the game asks you to wait 24 hours before you can continue.
The Times of Oman reported that Al Harbi, commented by saying, “I am so happy that my game is becoming so popular. Thank you, everyone. For those sending me private messages, I love you, but my inbox blew up and I don’t have the time to reply to all of you.”
Developers in Saudi Arabia likened the game to the infamous ‘Blue Whale’ game that was linked to about 150 suicides around the world.
Technology expert Yaser Al Rahely said that rumors being spread about the game that it cannot be deleted and that it hacks into your system are untrue.
Al Rahely told Al Arabiya that the game is a psychological thriller that works with sound and visual effects to create horror.
The game developers also seem to be in tune with the latest developments as at one point of the game it tells you that it’s not ‘Blue whale’ amongst other questions.
Currently, the hashtag Ban_Mariam_game is trending on social media, according to the Times of Oman.
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