The recent policy on ‘forceful shutdown of games’ for gamers of 16 years of age or lower has been ruled constitutional. This ruling is significant for many different matters.
It has been said that the court’s ruling was based on the fact that internet gaming does, in fact, have a high tendency for causing addiction and that the reasons behind the shutdown policy were valid. With the passing of this policy, other similar policies such as game addiction policy cannot help but be affected.
‘Gaming Addiction,’ the words that spoken during the passing of the shutdown policy
The Constitutional Court of Korea (CCourt) has announced its reasoning behind the passing of the policy to be that ‘internet gaming has rather high addiction rate and with it being a service that can be used anywhere with a network connection, there is a high chance of it being used for extended amount of time.’ Additionally, they commented that ‘it is hard to see this policy (limiting the playing of internet gaming from midnight to 6 am for anyone under 16 years of age) as being excessive due to the fact that internet gaming addiction is difficult to cure.’
The ruling of this policy is indicative of CCourt’s approving view of the game addiction related policies that are in debate recently. Currently, there are a total of 3 game addiction related policies and bills.
Starting with Senator Shin’s ‘4 Great Addictions’ bill that aims to combine gaming along with alcohol, drugs and gambling, there is Senator Son’s ‘1% Collection of Sales’ bill and ‘Preventions for Internet Gaming Addiction.’
Unsurprisingly, all these policies have their foci in ‘addiction.’ So far, the gaming industry has been able to use the lack of substantial and scientific evidence that labels gaming as an addictive material to resist such policies. Hence, it can be assumed that the current and further policies from now will use CCourt’s admittance of internet gaming addiction as its weapons.
Here are some of the excerpts from CCourt’s ruling:
“Also internet gaming are usually designed around concurrent users that make it easy for social interaction, ultimately increasing its addictive appeal. With these games available for play wherever a network connection is allowed, there is a high risk of extended playtime.”
“These limitations will only be carried out after confirming whether the game industry affected are domestic based or foreign based, and therefore it is difficult to see this policy as invasive of the equal rights.”
Shutdown policy on mobile games? High possibility of the shutdown policy to be enhanced
There is a possibility of the policy being enhanced. Senator Son In Chun’s ‘Prevention for Internet Gaming Addiction’ bill’s contents contain the policies to increase the age limit from 16 to 19, and extending the limitation time to be from 10 pm of the previous day to 7 am of the following day.
Some of the comments of the party in opposition of this bill were expressing the ‘need for further inspection with the usefulness of the shutdown policy in question.’ However, with CCourt’s admittance of the need for the shutdown policy, it may be fairly easy for the bill to receive the consent for extensions.
The outlook for the mobile shutdown policy currently in deferment seem chaotic as well. The mobile shutdown policy was not passed with the reasons being that mobile gaming is less addictive than internet gaming, and has been put on deferment until May 19th, 2015. However, with the internet shutdown policy passed by the CCourt, it seems likely for the mobile shutdown policy to also pass when the deferment duration is over. If such events were to happen, the mobile industry will have to develop a new system that prevents teenagers from playing the game during late hours. This new requirement may be uncomfortable news for many in the mobile game business due to the fact that the industry has many small to medium sized developers.
Senator Chun Byung Hun’s counter-policy, will it become invalid?
Senator Chun Byung Hun’s counter-policy to the shutdown policies is now cornered. Back in January of 2013, Senator Chun had offered a counter-policy that required parents’ consents in limiting the children’s playtime and had removed mobile games from the list included in the shutdown policy.
However, CCourt has decided in the recent rulings that Ministry of Culture’s selective shutdown policy lacks effectiveness. The court has ruled that the selective shutdown policy and the forceful shutdown policy fall under double regulations, and because of this, Senator Chun’s parent consent shutdown policy cannot help but lose its standing.
With CCourt’s decision to enforce the new policy only on the domestically serviced games, Senator Chun’s opinion that mobile shutdown policy is useless now loses its standing. While this counter-policy had nothing to worry about in terms of its standing if the shutdown policy were to get declined, with it approved by CCourt now, further debates may be required.
There may be less to no immediate changes, but bad for future development
The shutdown policy has actually been active in all internet games since November 20th, 2011. The developers have these systems already implemented and there will be little to no changes in the industry.
However, if the above said policies do indeed get approved, the game industry will receive a lot of pressure. The more policies get approved and passed, the more negative views internet gaming will receive from the general public.
Also, the internet gaming addiction prevention bill includes the requirement for all internet games to properly analyze and gauge the addictive nature of the games for submission before the launch. Furthermore, in the case of underage members, they will be required to submit the game’s highlights, rating, playtime, and rate of addiction to their legal guardians and home room teacher.
In the case that such bills get approved, the developers only have more pressure in having to build new systems around the addictive ratings and the information submissions. All in all, not only will the developers work under much more pressure and restrictions, the game industry will lose its face in the general public.