© AFP / Behrouz Mehri / FILE PHOTO
Washington's economic war against Iran took a turn for the petty this weekend, as gamers in Iran and Syria found themselves unable to play popular video game 'League of Legends' due to new "restrictions" by the US government.

First, they came for the politicians, then, the businessmen... and now, they have come for the gamers. While it is not clear what threat civilians playing computer games pose to the United States, League players in Syria and Iran have been totally unable to log in to the game's online server since Saturday, instead being greeted by a message from game developer Riot:

"Due to US laws and regulations, players in your country cannot access League of Legends at this time. Such restrictions are subject to change by the US government, so if and when that happens, we will look forward to having you back on the rift."

As a "free to play" game, League sustains itself with in-game microtransactions which seemingly constitute a form of trade, making it subject to sanctions. One might question, however, if blocking people from buying virtual clothes and power-ups for video game characters will actually serve to achieve anything - except for riling the players up.

Although nearly 10 years old, League of Legends still boasts a remarkable 115 million players worldwide. While it is difficult to say exactly how many were logging on from Syria and Iran, numerous people affected by the ban have written on the game's message boards to express their frustration.

"I'm so shocked, I woke up this morning and I can't play anymore. Iran is one of [the] big EUW League Communities. There are a lot of players here, and now they can't play the game," one poster wrote.

"Political problems between Iran and America are between governments, players and people have nothing to do with this."

US President Donald Trump's administration seemingly has another opinion on the matter, having recently issued multiple rounds of sanctions that have had a harmful effect on the Islamic Republic's civilian population. While things had been rocky between the US and Iran since Trump pulled out the 2015 nuclear deal last year, the conflict escalated after Washington ramped up its presence in the region over an alleged Iranian attack plot, and then accused Tehran of attacking oil tankers in May and June. It reached the brink of catastrophe last week after Iranian forces shot down a US surveillance drone.