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South Korea introduces yet another law to curb gaming's ills

Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images file

South Korean teens, the primary target of their homeland's lawmakers, enjoy PC games.

The South Korean government is considering another law to further curb rampant game playing and Internet addiction among its youth. Dubbed the "Cooling Off" system, it aims to regulate the amount of time a student spends with video games in a 24-hour period.

If passed, it will join the "Shutdown Law," in effect since last November, which also targets gamers age 16 and under, but is far more restrictive in that it prohibits gaming between midnight and 6 a.m.

The primary aim of Cooling Off, like the Shutdown Law, is to prevent school bullying and suicides, which have been attributed to gaming and Internet addiction in the country. Internet addiction, in particular, has been a primary concern for a number of years.

In addition to the psychological and physical impact that rampant online gaming has had on some youths, there have also been reports of deaths associated with gaming not just in South Korea, but various other parts of Asia, including an incident in Taiwan earlier this month.

Fear about rampant gaming is nearly universal among parents, educators, and legislators. American lawmakers have tried to pass similar laws, which are not nearly as hard-hitting, but they have not been successful.

Lawmakers have been unable to provide any scientific proof that links gaming and any supposed ills. But this hasn't stopped South Korean legislators.

As Kotaku explains it, the Cooling Off system will shut down a game automatically after two hours of play. Gamers can log back in, but only after 10 minutes to "rest," and only once per 24 hours. It was not specified how long the second session will last, but it is presumed to be no longer than the initial time allotted.

In response, the Korean Wireless Internet Industry Association has stated that restrictive gaming privileges are not an answer, and mentions similar regulations imposed on comic books in the 80s by South Korea, which aside from being ineffective, left the comic industry there in shambles.

Considering how much revenue the South Korean gaming industry generates, many fear that the still-growing industry will suffer similar difficulties if the Cooling Off system goes into effect.

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Matthew Hawkins is an NYC-based game journalist who has also written for EGM, GameSetWatch, Gamasutra, Giant Robot, and numerous others. He also self-publishes his own game culture zine, is part of Attract Mode, and co-hosts The Fangamer Podcast. You can keep tabs on him via Twitter, or his personal home-base, FORT90.com.