South Korea Enforces No Gaming Law for Minors After Midnight

COMMENTARY | For those who are new to the online gaming world, let me cue you in. As of recent years, online gaming has hit an all time high with the amount of users and players who participate in online gaming. Some popular online multi-player games include: World of Warcraft, Call of Duty series, and much more. The term that is used in today’s society that groups the online gaming world would be: Massively multiplayer online gamers. In an average American home today, it is difficult not to find video game consoles such as Xboxs or Playstation 3s. According to Grabstats, by 2012, over 190 million households will have and use a video game console.

To transition to what I am writing about, in recent months, the government of South Korea had been battling over the issue of “too much online gaming” for minors. The debate went back and forth regarding what should be done to try and limit the amount of time minors spend online and playing video games. The talk of enacting a nationwide ban for minors to restrict their playing time has been going on for some time. Finally, on April 29th, 2011, the National Assembly voted in favor, 117-63, to enact the law in full effect.

South Korea ranks 15th among the top GDPs over the entire world. Its economy has been continuing to boom and grow, which also has lead to it being able to advance in the technological field as well. In modern day Korea, you cannot walk the streets of bustling Seoul (the capital of South Korea), without seeing people using all sorts of hand-held devices. From riding the local bus to the subway lines, everyone from small children to older adults are viewing their hand-held devices while waiting to get to their destinations. Due to the increase in using technology, it has also increased the use of online gaming.

With the law being voted in favor, it was officially launched and enforced just yesterday, November 20th, 2011 at midnight. What is so unique about the law is that the government of South Korea had worked with several big time online gaming service providers, eg. Playstation Network, Xbox Live, Blizzard, to essentially put up a firewall ban that would shutdown its servers to minors who were registered with their networks. To explain further, what this means is: if a minor,16 years old or younger, has a registered account with Playstation network, then he/she would not be able to log in and start playing on the network from 12am to 6am. Networks such as these ask for age verification before being able to finalize registrations. However, since the law went into effect, there has been much controversy regarding the new law. Citizens of South Korea are saying it is an outright violation of their civil rights and many court filings have been submitted to the National Civil Court. Anti-law advocates are saying that even if the law goes into effect, minors will just steal their parents’ unique identification numbers (much like our Social Security Numbers here in the United States), to log into gaming portals and continue playing online. Others are saying even if a restriction is put into effect, the government would have a hard time maintaining the law and trying to prevent teens from playing video games online. To read more about the law and its effects, visit here.

Although the law is official, debate is continuing. Online gaming has become a reality and its population will only continue to grow. Now comes the big question. Should America follow a similar path and try and limit the amount of time minors spend on video games? Being a nation founded on democracy and civil rights, to even mention a law of this magnitude would result in only a plethora of headaches and lawsuits. However, should America at least try and attempt to limit the amount of time minors spend online and on games? The debate will be ongoing forever in my opinion. The same is currently going on in South Korea. Online gaming is popular and advocates of banning the new law say that even though minors are prohibited from playing online games from 12am to 6am, minors will be minors and fight to find ways around the new law. What are your thoughts? If a nation considers itself pro-democratic and has been founded on the principles of freedom of choice and liberty, is it allowed to enact a law that prohibits an individual from choice? What should America due to combat the increase in online gaming?

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