In South Korea, video games are a powerhouse, out-earning the native films and music combined. Video games in South Korea have a cultural influence like no other, which brings a lot of attention (Good and bad). With headlines like a 3-month old child dying from malnutrition because both her parents were at an internet cafe raising a virtual child in Prius Online, and a 28 year old dying after playing Starcraft for fifty hours consecutively; there is a lot outrage at the industry. That outrage is now taking form as a bill that is being considered by South Korea’s parliament that would classify “online gaming as potentially antisocial addiction alongside gambling, drugs and alcohol”.
Backed by 14 ruling party lawmakers and with support from parents, religious groups, and doctors, the bill would include provisions that would limit advertising “while a separate bill would take 1% of the gaming industry’s revenue to create a fund to curb addiction”. Conservative politicians and parents argue that online obsessions are negatively affecting schooling, families and the workplace.
“We need to create a clean Korea free from the four addictions,” Hwang Woo-yea, an MP in the ruling party, said in a recent speech.
Labeling video games as destructive as drugs and alcohol is a death sentence for the industry according to the game companies. “The 100,000 people employed in the game industry are not drugmakers,” said the Korea Internet and Digital Entertainment Association, representing game companies. While companies like Nexon may be able to weather a 1% lose of revenue, other smaller companies may not; which may result in less foreign games (Both those F2P and those that are not) migrating over to the west.
How will this bill affect those of us outside of South Korea? First, lets hope other countries don’t join South Korea on their campaign against the gaming industry. Since the bill hasn’t passed yet, it’s difficult to speculate on the full extent of how this legislation will affect the industry. Considering the past legislation has included laws that bans gaming between midnight and dawn for anyone under age 16, it’s safe to bet that any future bill will be strict.