/ July 3, 2008

No More Gaming on the Job for Bhutan’s Lawmakers…

The country of Bhutan has recently taken on a scourge familiar to us here in the U.S. (think last week’s BlackBerry post) : gaming on the job. Members of Bhutan’s National Assembly are no longer permitted to use laptops during sessions, banned by the speaker due to a noticeable lack of focus during debates. The speaker, Nima Tshering, has also placed other restrictions on MPs, banning smoking, eating, and other electronic devices in the building.

Some parliamentarians oppose the new rule, arguing that their laptops were essential for keeping track of detailed information and prevented paper waste. But, there may be some truth to Tshering’s suspicion about MP gaming. Computer games have become wildly popular in Bhutan, which has only had access to the internet for the last 9 years. With a restricted number of outlets for entertainment and the brutal mountain weather, many citizens find themselves confined to the boredom of life indoors, and computer games can help to relieve it.

Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan kingdom that is currently being featured in Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, has a reputation for traditional, egalitarian living and environmentalism. One of its most popular national projects is the goal of Gross National Happiness, Bhutan’s version of the Western concept of GNP, which focuses on quality of life rather than economic output. The country held its first democratic elections last winter, although the Bhutanese King still enjoys some ceremonial powers.

Source: The BBC

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