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Korea’s Online Gaming Woes

First, let me state that “gaming” in the post title does not refer to online gambling, like poker or other card games or virtual slot machines. Here it refers to online computer or video game playing.

Let me also state that I enjoy playing computer games, even in my somewhat advanced state of decrepitude . . . err, I mean in my wise, mature years. I mostly still play quite a few of the old classic simulation games, like the Civilization and Railroad Tycoon series, both debuting in the early ’90s. Also on my computer are strategy games, such as Panzer General and role-playing games (RPGs), my favorite being Baldur’s Gate. Most of the games on my computer, and I have many, originated in the early or mid 1990s, and you can still buy them very cheaply at various Internet sites. I get many of these classics from GOG (Good Old Games).

About the only new (modern) title that I regularly indulge in is my favorite baseball simulation (not a video game), Out of the Park Baseball (OOTPB). OOTPB 13 is due to be released in early April, just in time for the start of the new baseball season. I mainly play within a fictional major league against the computer. I am, of course, the General Manager and Manager of the New York Yankees. Unfortunately, I’ve finished under .500 the past three seasons–I’m sure I wouldn’t last 3 months under “The Boss,” legendary Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

I’ve also been known to play some of the classic games ’round the clock. I distinctly remember playing Civilization I, when I first got my copy of it, from about 4 in the afternoon until 10 the next morning (it was a weekend, luckily). Mind you, now, these were (and are) games on my computer that I played against the computer, not head-to-head online.

That brings us to Korea’s present perceived problem of too many people getting addicted to online computer games, like World of Warcraft, Starcraft and others. These games are big business over here, with, even, professional gaming leagues and gaming stars pulling in big bucks.

It’s become such an addiction for some people, that incidences of domestic violence, bullying, murder, deaths due to exhaustion and deep vein thrombosis, and other consequences have been reported. In one very tragic case, a young couple let their 3-month child starve while they took care of a “virtual” child in an online game, spending most of their time in an Internet Cafe, rather than taking care of their real child. The Korean government estimates that their are 2 million Internet addicts in the country. So, they are trying to do something about it.

The government is proposing a new law that will allow people to play online games for only two hours, then the game will shut down. There will be a 10-minute cooling off period before users can login again, and then they can only login once more in a 24-hour period. This goes with a law passed last year that makes it illegal for young gamers to play certain games between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.

Whew! It seems that on line gaming can be quite a problem. I know that some of my university students own up to staying awake into the wee hours of the morning and then coming to class barely able to keep their eyes open. Let’s hope something can be done about the problem. Of course, that raises the issue of WHO should do something. Should the government step in or should parents, relatives and friends, and/or the game companies take care of such matters? In the U.S., alcohol is regulated by the government, but if an adult wants to drink him or herself to death, the government can’t stop them. There are AA meetings, so how about IAA (Internet Addicts Anon.)? A complex, difficult issue for sure.

As for me, I only play a couple hours a day for at most a few days a week, if I even have that much time. Of course, I’m no longer a spring chicken. I have other things that wake me in the wee hours. I’ll write about THAT soon.

Other Sources:
ingame.msnbc.msn.com South Korea Introduces Yet Another Law to Curb Gamings Ills

Forbes.com South Korea May Limit Young Online Gamers to 2 Hours a Day…to Prevent Bullying

msnbc.msn.com South Korea Targets Internet Addicts

dailymail.co.uk Video game addicts in South Korea could be limited to playing online for just four hours per day