12 organizations including ESA(Entertainment Software Association) issued a statement that opposes South Korea’s controversial ‘Game Addiction Law’ bill to members of the National Assembly of Republic of Korea on 11th of June. The participating organizations are from all over the world including Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, Ireland, and Poland.
The proposed Game Addiction Law bill is classifying the online game as an addictive substance comparable to alcohol and narcotics.
“Likening video games to alcohol and narcotics is unprecedented. Such a classification is particularly unjustified given the lack of consensus in the medical community about whether internet usage can form the basis of a psychiatric diagnosis, let alone online gaming,” said the statement. “Once the legislation passes, the whole gaming industry will suffer disgrace and leave its reputation as the leading country broken. the value of the (Korean) game market would eclipse (US$11 billion) in 2014 and that online games account for more than 90% of Korea’s total video game exports. The Korean video game market, and online games in particular, should therefore be a source of great national pride.”
Following is the full statement of ESA:
Members of the National Assembly
Republic of Korea
Dear Sir / Madam,
On behalf of the undersigned trade associations, which collectively represent the leading publishers and developers of interactive entertainment software from around the world, I write today to express our industry’s concern with the proposed Korean Bill for Addiction Prevention, Management and Treatment (“Bill”), which would amend Korean law to classify internet games as an addictive substance comparable to alcohol and narcotics. Pursuant to such a classification, publishers of internet games would be subject to various regulations, including limitations on the means by which publishers advertise and sell their games.
As global representatives of the game industry, we stand in solidarity in opposing this legislation. Likening video games to alcohol and narcotics, substances that have for decades been scientifically proven to be both physically addictive and potentially deadly, is unprecedented. Such a classification is particularly unjustified given the lack of consensus in the medical community about whether internet usage can form the basis of a psychiatric diagnosis, let alone online gaming.
Unfortunately, this Bill is only the latest effort to emerge from Korea that regulates the video game industry. Although President Geun-Hye Park recently identified the video game industry as an integral part of Korea’s burgeoning “creative economy,” there is a growing sense that excessive regulation is stifling the potential growth of the industry.
We note, for instance, that the recent passage of the “shutdown policy” under the Juvenile Protection Act has prompted gaming companies to limit their service offerings to the Korean gaming public due to difficulties involved in complying with the law. Given that Korean developers have for years been on the leading edge of innovation in the online gaming space, we worry that excessive domestic regulations will have collateral effects on the global industry.
Perhaps more important are the ill effects that continued over-regulation may have on the growth of Korea’s national economy. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism(“MCST”) recently predicted that the value of the domestic game market would eclipse 11 trillion won in 2014 and that online games account for more than 90% of Korea’s total video game exports. The Korean video game market, and online games in particular, should therefore be a source of great national pride. Passage of the Bill would, however, unfairly stigmatize the industry and put at risk Korea’s reputation as a leading developer of online games. We sincerely hope the legislation that would impose yet another set of burdensome regulations would not pass the National Assembly. We would also like to pledge our support to work collaboratively with the National Assembly to identify ways our industry can make positive contributions that are in the interest of the Korean public.
Michael D. Gallagher
President and CEO
Entertainment Software Association
Interactive Games & Entertainment Association
Guillaume de Fondaumière
Co-CEO, Executive Producer
European Game Developers Association
Spanish Association of Distributors and Publishers of Entertainment Software (aDeSe)
President and CEO
Entertainment Software Association of Canada
The Interactive Software Federation of Europe
Italian Games Industry Association (AESVI)
Game Developers Association of Australia
Dr. Maximilian Schenk
Federal Association of Interactive Entertainment (BIU – Germany)
The Dutch Association for Producers and Importers of Image and Sound Carriers (NVPI)
Dr. Jo Twist
The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE)
Polish Association of Entertainment Software Developers and Distributors (SPIDOR)