Korean online gaming curfew plans scuppered

Just when Korean authorities thought they had managed to curtail the epidemic of perceived anti-social gaming habits of its young citizens, an online games company threatens to scupper their plans.

A lengthy process resulted in the Legislation and Judiciary Committee in the Korean National Assembly unanimously passed a ruling that sought to enforce a curfew on the country’s inhabitants under the age of 16.

As previously mentioned by TechEye, one of the ills of Korean society is for the youth to indulge in playing online into the small hours in the morning, leading to the somewhat more militant of parents packing their kids off to gaming boot camps.

In a bid to curb these habits the government has sought to target habit forming in youngsters to stem the tide of gaming addiction prevalent throughout the country by enforcing a midnight to 6am curfew, due to start in October.

Unfortunately, despite much effort from the state it appears that one company has thrown a spanner in the works, dubbed the Cinderella Law, with Korea’s largest online games company NCsoft managing to simply sidestep registration rules.

It seems that one of the main ways the state was planning on enforcing the rules would be to rely on the private sector to implement the curfew.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, since kids represent a portion of their users, it turns out that games companies are reticent to block their own audiences.

NCsoft has changed its registration procedure for a number of games it deems to be for all ages, meaning that only an email address is needed and not the proof of age resident registration, effectively rendering the new legislation useless.

Although NCsoft has denied that it has simplified the registration process in order to beat the shutdown, stating instead that its aim is to stop unnecessary collection of data from customers, it is thought that other firms outraged at the plans are likely to follow suit.

The government has in the past sought a reduction in online businesses demanding resident registration numbers from customers, and is therefore in a rather difficult position.

Although an official at the Ministry Gender Equality and Family said that no methods of enforcing the curfew had been decided upon so far, it seems the most effective method has been taken from them, with other methods at their disposal such as throttling internet connection speeds likely to be more difficult to implement.