With the bad press South Korea has been getting over what many have labeled as “gaming addition,” two new policies have been announced in an attempt to restrict underage access to online gaming after midnight, according to the Korea Herald.
Called a “nighttime shutdown” the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism intends to snuff out gaming addiction among teens, and hopes these measures will help. Underage users will be forced out of gaming sessions by shutting down online access the moment midnight strikes. There will also be what is called a “slowdown” system in effect, whereby internet connection speeds will lag significantly should an underage user be logged on for more than a certain amount of time.
Gamers will be given three time options for their six hour curfew: Midnight to 6 a.m., 1-7a.m., and 2-8 a.m.
These policies are being applied to popular titles such as Maple Story and Mabinogi during the second half of this year. The slowdown system is being applied to a total of four RPGs including Dragons Nest and Dungeon Fighter, but will be extended to 19 titles in total, which the Korean Herald reports is over 79% of the domestic online game market.
Further countermeasures will be put in place to prevent underage players from using their parents Resident Registration Number to set up online accounts. A Resident Registration Number would be the equivalent of a Social Security number here in the United States: its a thirteen digit number all residents of South Korea are issued, and is very heavily used online for identity verification and the like. This is why it’s so bloody hard to get into a Korean Closed Beta test; RRN’s aren’t easy to come by for foreigners.
While the issue of addiction is becoming more and more outrageous in South Korea, (perhaps the most notorious incident being the parents who neglected their daughter to her death while raising a virtual child), it still seems like a line has been crossed. Sure, taking a stance against addiction is admirable, but restricting a person’s freedom is not. To make matters worse, these policies only apply to people under the age of 18, which means adults can still be as irresponsible as they wish. A good analogy would be how the selling of alcohol is restricted to certain hours of the day. It’s a good idea, but it doesn’t solve alcohol addiction.