Gaming Addiction - Blurry Halo

Imagine not being able to play World of Warcraft in the middle of the night. Okay. Okay! You can stop screaming now. Unless you live in Korea where it’s possible that this is going to become a reality for you. According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism this “nighttime shutdown” is an attempt to block underage access to online games after midnight as a means of curbing video game addiction in teens.

Teens will be able to choose one of three six hour slots during which they will not have internet access to games: 12AM – 6AM, 1AM – 7AM, 2AM – 8AM. The ban will affect popular Korean games like Barameui Nara, Maple Story, and Mabinogi. Strangely certain popular titles like Lineage aren’t on the list of games being restricted despite falling under the same category of gaming.

There’s also an additional “slowdown” system being put in place which will choke internet connection speeds if an under-aged user has been logged in for an extended period of time. This system is being tested out with 4 games including Dungeon & Fighter and Dragon Nest. A total of 19 role playing games are going to be part of this program, and together will account for about 79% of Korea’s online gaming market.

Some critics feel that underage users are just going to try to bypass the system by using their parents resident registration number to set up online accounts, but the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism intends to put counter measures in place sometime in the first half of 2010. The policies mentioned above should be applicable to online games in Korea in the second half of 2010.

These seemingly extreme restrictions appear to be a response to public outcry after a series of incidents have made headlines including the death of a newborn through starvation because of a couple’s neglect due to online gaming addiction. Of course, problems with gaming addiction are not exclusive to Korea, which begs the questions: do we need a similar system in place for our children here, and should this be limited only to children?

Source: Korean Herald