Game Developers Protest New “Gaming Addiction Law”

International game developers, politicians, and hundreds of thousands of South Korean gamers are protesting a newly proposed law that would treat computer and video games as addictive materials in the same category as drugs, alcohol, and gambling. An online petition against the law, which now has more than 280,000 signatures, criticizes new regulations that would tax game company profits by 1% in order to pay for game addiction treatment programs, among other new requirements.

Netizens mocked the regressive attitude of the National Assembly Members who proposed the law, pointing out that the Park Geun-hye administration is happy to support cultural exports like K-pop as part of her campaign for a “creative economy”, but choose to criminalize the Korean game industry, a similarly creative industry that is more than twice as valuable, (the Korean game industry made USD $9.2 billion in 2012, compared with USD $3.9 billion for the music industry).

From Economy Today:

“Computer games are regarded as drugs in Korea?”…Internationally criticized at G-Star

Korea’s “Gaming Addiction Law” received international attention at this year’s G-Star, an annual trade show for the video and computer game industry held at BEXCO in Busan.


Foreign game developers who visited G-Star criticized the law with various arguments. The developer of “World of Tanks”, Wargaming’s CEO Victor Kislyi said, “Is it a wise decision to regulate chocolate just because some people consume it too much?”

He also added, “Korea is internationally known not only for corporations such as Samsung and Hyundai, but also for being the mecca of online gaming. My home country Belarus is a small country with only 10 million people but at least 75 million gamers became aware of the country due to games.”

Sony Online Entertainment’s Matthew Higby, a director for “PlanetSide 2”, said “There are many gamers in Korea but the correlation between gaming and crime is very weak. Whenever I assert that gaming does not increase violence, I use the case of Korea as an example.” Blizzard Entertainment’s Senior Game Designer David Kim said, “As far as I know, there is no such regulation on gaming in America.”

They were proud of their work as game developers, and expressed sympathy for the internationally recognized Korean developers. They were puzzled by the idea that computer gaming will be regarded as a target for regulation along with drugs, gambling and alcohol in Korea.

An even more eye-catching response came from Germany. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) in Germany hosted a seminar for the Korea-Germany game industry and suggested Korean developers relocate to Germany since Germany does not regulate gaming. They explained their plan to support Korean developers with 100,000 Euros per project if they set up foreign branches in Germany.

The state of NRW commented, “The German government supervises alcohol and drug addicts but does not classify gaming as a source of addiction. If you develop games in Germany, it would also be easier to gain access to the international market.”

In response, a Korean game developer said, “If Korea keeps treating games like this, the offer will become very attractive. As long as circumstances permit, we can move anywhere in the world.”

The “Gaming Addiction Law” that puts computer games in the same regulation category as drugs, gambling and alcohol was proposed by the Saenuri Party’s lawmaker Shin Ui-jin, a psychiatrist. However, other psychiatrists argue that gaming cannot be classified as a source of addiction.

National Assembly Member Shin Ui-Jin (center) has led the effort to strengthen regulations on games, photo from a National Assembly hearing on the law.

National Assembly Member Shin Ui-Jin (center) has led the effort to strengthen regulations on games, photo from a National Assembly hearing on the law.

In an editorial in the Hankyoreh on November 14th, Professor Lee Yeong-sik at the department of psychiatry of Chung-ang University Hospital claimed that there is lack of medical evidence to lump gaming in with other addiction sources. He said, “Among young people who visited the clinic thinking gaming is their problem, there have been very few cases where gaming alone was indeed their main problem. It is not a wise approach to lump gaming in with drugs, alcohol and gambling for regulation.”

Comments from Nate:

If I’m an owner of a computer game company, I would flee to a foreign country instead of being treated like a drug offender in Korea.


No wonder they say your household will go under once the hen starts squawking…..


This is truly an international shame. Not only nationally but even internationally shameful… Germany wants to help Korean game developers relocate to their country because they know it will bring good money to them. I don’t understand why Korea is treating computer games like drugs and trying to put a leash on the profitable industry.


The president has emphasized the importance of “an economy based on creativity”. Is this all the Chicken Brain [Saenuri] Party can come up with? By the same token, why don’t they just ban cigarettes and alcohol and even regulate obesity by law?


Korea suffers because of an incompetent National Assembly member.


Who is that lawmaker who blames computer games for their children’s failures rather than their own parenting? It is so pathetic of the government to hammer good game developers and kill off the remaining software industry in this country. And then they talk about an economy based on creativity and raising 100,000 high school kids skilled in programming…..


ㅡㅡ Oh sure. Let’s ban Kakao Talk because there are many Kakao addicts. Let’s ban Facebook because there are many Facebook addicts. Let’s ban alcohol because there are many incidents caused by drunk people. Let’s ban cars because there are many car accidents. Let’s ban celebrities because their fangirls and fanboys waste time following them. Let’s ban TV because there are people who spend all day watching TV. Let’s ban luxury goods because there are women who struggle to save money to buy them. Let’s ban men because they are potential sex offenders. Let’s ban women because they are potential honeypots. Let’s ban the military because there are many suicide cases in the military. Let’s ban seawater because it has been contaminated by the broken nuclear plants. Let’s ban air because it has been contaminated by exhaust gas. How are these different from the government’s argument for gaming regulation???


60% of Korea’s cultural content exports are from the game industry, not K-pop or dramas, he he.


What a march of idiots…… Games are like drugs? Ke ke.


Most women don’t like computer games so they don’t care whether the game industry is an important part of the Korean cultural exports… Especially housewives have no reason to oppose the law. Think of the women around you. Most of them don’t like to have boyfriends who play computer games. You know why it was a female lawmaker who proposed the law. Women have no problem even if the whole game industry disappears.


That idiotic bitch from the Saenuri Party said something foolish and caused this whole ruckus. It is a critical time when the government and the Saenuri should be managing their image well but they are digging their own graves. Make no mistake. You guys were able to come this far only because the Democratic Party has done so many retarded things.

From The Korea Herald:

More than 200,000 netizens sign petition against “Gaming Addiction Law”

By November 8th, more than 200,000 netizens signed the petition of the Korean Internet and Digital Entertainment Association (K-IDEA) opposing the Gaming Addiction Law.

According to the Kyunghyang Shinmun, the K-IDEA issued a statement on their homepage, calling for scrapping the Gaming Addiction Law, which led to more than 220,000 netizens signing on to a petition in support.

About 90 member companies of the K-IDEA, such as Nexon, Neowiz Games, NC Soft, Net Marble, Wemade and NHN Entertainment also supported the petition by putting up relevant information on their own homepages.

From 14th to 17th, they will also collect signatures for the petition at G-Star 2013 held at BEXCO in Busan.

National Assembly Member Jun Byung-hun gave a speech at G-STAR defending the game industry and criticizing the new law. Jun then signed the petition.

National Assembly Member Jun Byung-hun gave a speech at G-STAR defending the game industry and criticizing the new law. Jun then signed the petition.

and got some photos

and got some photos

The ruling party revealed their plan to designate computer games as one of the four main sources of addiction along with drugs, alcohol and gambling and enact the “Gaming Addiction Law”, which will be administered by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. In opposition to this plan, K-IDEA launched their petition on the 28th of October.

Comments from Nate:


Addiction? Ke ke ke ke ke ke. Hey, get rid of the casino in Jeong-seon first! There are many people who gambled away their family fortune there. These freaking lawmakers don’t know their priorities.


Things like this happen because those who cannot catch up with the times are in power. This is not the 1960s or 1970s. How long do you think we can get by selling only tangible goods? They always talk about how our country has only human resources. Yet, they try to kill the industries where human resources alone account for the greatest value (cartoons, games, programs, books, etc.) Our country’s bigwigs must be stuck in the 60s or 70s. No wonder neighboring countries are treating Korea like a punching bag.


It’s nothing but a trick to collect taxes by designating games as a source of addiction~ And maybe they will support psychiatrists and get money from them. This kind of politics should be plowed under. Young well-prepared politicians with righteous and law-abiding attitudes should replace the old. At least, it will be better than now because those dotards fail to catch up with the times and make regressive policies.


Stop bullshitting. Do they know how much money the game industry makes? GTA 5 alone generated a revenue of more than a billion dollars. Our government is supposed to support the game industry but what? Regulate? What nonsense. Those bastards who don’t even know what’s good and bad, yet they occupy high positions and make retarded policies… Cartoons and games are potentially very profitable industries that need governmental support. But regulate what? Maybe those officials don’t know what they are doing because they just got their positions thanks to their old school ties. It seems they don’t even realize that Korea doesn’t have oil or significant natural resources like other countries. If you graduated from top universities, shouldn’t you at least know that such retarded policies will have great adverse effects on the nation’s development? Damn, these bookworm bastards don’t seem to know what’s really important…..Their stupid policies would make a developed country go backward. They believe they just need to keep corporations like Samsung running, tsk tsk.


What are they doing when the game industry significantly contributes to the Korean economy? They will make many game industry employees lose their jobs. PC-bangs all over the country will collapse. Now I can understand why Nexon moved to Japan ^^ What a retarded government.


They just want to rip off money from the game industry, Ke ke ke; It’s like “Pay the fee if you want to sell drugs here.” Such thugs.


MOGEF is not the real schemer for this. MOGEF also existed during the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Mu-hyun administrations but they didn’t do things like this. What do you think is the philosophy of the current government? They see citizens as a target to control. They also enjoy making deals with the chaebols under the table. The only industry that can’t be touched by the chaebols in Korea is the game industry. They started out as small companies and have successfully reaped lots of profits. They have become semi-conglomerates who can potentially challenge the chaebols. Chaebols want to prevent this by colluding with the government, creating policies with the excuse of protecting citizens’ welfare. Does anyone still think we chose the right president?


Why don’t they regulate Go and Xiangqi as well? Playing them consumes so freaking much time.


It should rather be drugs, alcohol, gambling, and golf, you fools.


How will game developers, managers and other game-related employees get by then? The media depicts K-pop as a big cultural content export but it can’t even be compared to the scale of games. The government seems too thoughtless. Instead of making a fuss with the Gaming Addiction Law, go get rid of those trash idols who can’t sing. They give kids a false hope that you can be a singer even if you can’t sing.

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