A legislative move to define and regulate online game addiction is gaining momentum.
The Act on Prevention, Control and Treatment of Online Game Addiction was introduced on December 19 for discussion in the National Assembly’s Standing Committee, after the Enforcement Decree of the Online Gaming Industry Promotion Act was already passed in the Cabinet meeting in November.
However, there is fierce opposition to the proposed bill. Opponents argue that a detailed study on overindulgence in online games should be conducted first, rather than blindly regulating Internet games, and that a way to expand the scope of the existing policy to prevent online game addiction ought to be discussed in advance.
According to industry sources and those in the National Assembly on December 22, there are three bills related to the online gaming industry — regulations on web-based games, a bill to prevent Internet game addiction, and online gaming addiction legislation. The new regulations on web-based games were passed in a Cabinet meeting on November 12, and will be effective as of February 2014.
The main point of the new regulatory measures is to expand the extent of regulations that web-based game operators must comply with, whereas that of the online gaming addiction legislation is to define online games as one of the four vices along with alcohol, drugs, and gambling, and to prevent and treat online game addiction. The bill to prevent Internet game addiction, on the other hand, specifies that online gaming companies must pay 1% of their sales to a fund for treating addiction, and pay 5% of their sales as a fine in case of non-compliance.
While the online gaming addiction bill is accelerating through the National Assembly, overindulgence in online games is reported to be in decline. According to the results of a study on overindulgence in online games in 2013 released by the Korea Creative Content Agency on December 20, the proportion of overindulgence was 2.5% in 2011, 0.8% in 2012, and 0.7% in 2013. It can be interpreted in a way that in general, the number of people who spend too much time playing online games has decreased over the years.
In particular, the report pointed out that it is important to complement the current system of selecting game availability periods to prevent game addiction.