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South Korean Shutdown Law challenged in court by gaming companies and parents

By: Muhammad Qasim Hassan

  |   June 30th, 2012   |  
News, Uncategorized
South Korea Olympics

The constitutionality and validity of South Korea’s Shutdown Law is being challenged in the court by two groups.

The first of these groups comprises of Korean game makers such as NCsoft, NeoWiz and Nexon, while the second group represents both parents and teenagers.

The two groups have taken a stand against the law that was introduced by the government in November last year to impose a six-hour lock-out on gamers aged 16 or less from mid-night to 6:00 am in the morning.

The intended motivation behind introducing such a law in the country was to reduce the amount of hours that youngsters spent on video games. With the new restriction in place, the government aimed to encourage the youth to use their free time on more productive activities such as studying or even sleeping.

While the reaction of youngsters to the Shutdown Law did not come off as a huge surprise, the government also found parents strongly protesting against it. They are making an argument that the new law is unconstitutional in the sense that it is invading their freedom to educate their own children. The law is also being called a clear violation of equal opportunity rights.

The Korean game companies have thrown a lawsuit at the government relating to the Shutdown Law, contesting that it is unjust and will take its toll on the gaming industry.

The government, however, is convinced that it is doing the right thing by imposing such a law. The country’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Family asserted that the Shutdown Law is the least it can do to save youngsters from themselves, contending that they are prone to waste their precious time on activities that can hardly be considered as productive.

While the law originally stated that it would only affect PC online gaming, its effects has now spread to the PlayStation Network and Xbox 360 Live users as well. The online multiplayer gaming remains unhampered, but Sony has temporarily shut down its online store in the region to comply with the recent developments in the Shutdown Law, stating that the store will be back up before the end of this year.

While the government is already facing the heat because of the Shutdown Law, the lawmakers are planning to introduce another law, dubbed Cooling Off, in the country to regulate the amount of time the youth spends on gaming and curbing the alleged illness of video games. In order to curb the alleged illness of gaming such as rampant game play and Internet addiction, the new law will shut down the game automatically after two hours of play, allowing the player to turn it back on only after 10 minutes and that too only once a day.

Many critics of the Shutdown Law and Cooling Off Law fear that such kind of regulations would eventually leave the gaming industry in shambles, a fate similar to that of comic industry in the 80s.