South Korea restricts overnight online gaming

On the surface, a “Cinderella Law” sounds quite charming – but the reality isn’t so much fun. That’s the fairytale nickname given to a new piece of legislation in South Korea, which will significantly cut down on the amount of gamers playing online between midnight and 6AM.

Specifically, online gaming providers are now required to lock out any child aged under 16 for that six-hour block every night – and that includes PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE as well as many PC publishers and hosts.

[img_big]center,7208,2011-06-23/Chaos-AoH10.png,Even family-friendly Mabinogi is restricted under the new law[/img_big]

The Shutdown Law – very similar to one discussed in Vietnam earlier this year – kicked in on November 20th, after government saw support from the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism (MCST) and Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MGEF). The departments consider it a way of preventing online gaming addiction.

Vocal critics, including cultural solidarity organisation MoonHwaYunDae (MHYD) argue the law violates civil rights (children are people too). They point out that the government has not proven that video games are any more harmful or addictive than listening to music, watching movies or television, reading books or engaging in other indoor activities.

The Korea Association of Game Industry (KAOGI) comprises 14 game publishers including NCsoft and Nexon. Predictably, they’re not fond of the new law, claiming it enforces “excessive prohibition” on a number of players. The Association is currently preparing to take the matter to court.

Sony has already cracked down, preventing anyone aged 15 or younger from signing up for a PSN account, as well as stopping anyone in that age bracket from logging in between midnight and 6am.

Microsoft is taking slightly longer, and the future of night-time Xbox LIVE in South Korea looks a little shaky. A two-month grace period has been granted to the publisher, who is currently working on tracking gamers’ ages in order to block youngsters from using the service at night. If this proves too complex – or too easily worked around – Microsoft may simply block all users from Xbox LIVE between the hours of 12 and 6.

At present, gamers are already finding their own ways around the curfew – using accounts belonging to parents, older relatives or friends, or by simply logging into Western servers rather than local ones.

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