When it comes to gaming outside of the U.S., some countries are quite a bit harsher with their laws and regulations than others. This statement may rekindle thoughts of Australia's ban-hammer on certain M-rated titles, or of how China has outlawed gold farming in World of Warcraft.
Now Vietnam has decided to join the fray, announcing that until new laws can be drafted:
- All new licenses for online games will be suspended.
- Any/all public ads for online gaming are banned.
- All internet cafes have to shut down online gaming between the hours of 11pm-6am.
These laws went into effect immediately, and will most likely last for the rest of the year, when more official action will likely take place.
In addition, Vietnam's Department of Information and Communication has ordered game proprietors to detail the amount of violence present in a particular title, namely through including "video clips that illustrate the violent nature of particular games." After this has been accomplished, the proprietors must label the games for age appropriate demographics (>6, 6-11, 12 to 15, 15 to 18 and 18+).
All this hullabaloo took place due to public backlash regarding online games having a "negative influence" on the country's youth.
As a Vietnamese individual (not a national, mind), I can't say I'm completely surprised by Vietnam's reaction to the product of online gaming. While it is an amazing thing to play the same video game with people all over the world, old fashioned Asian culture does not view video games as anything more than a time-waster, especially when you can be doing something much more productive: namely, studying.
It's unfortunate to see the country take such a hard line on gaming, considering 76% of the child population plays video games on the weekend. Don't get me wrong, I still love the place, and I think it's a country everyone should try and go see once in their lives. If you decide to go, just don't expect to be playing Starcraft 2 into the wee hours on the night.