In South Korea, gaming is a big deal. Online gaming is even more of a big deal. Just look at how ridiculously popular StarCraft is over there – they even televise live StarCraft matches and have multiple national teams and leagues for the game. So yes, online competitive gaming is a massive deal in South Korea.
What could begin to be argued as the country’s national pastime is causing its government major concern. This resulted in the South Korean government imposing an online gaming ban between midnight and 6AM for those under the age of sixteen. This was originally for PC gaming only, but that’s about to change as the South Korean government applies the same laws to consoles.
This has left Sony and Microsoft scrambling to find a solution for their PlayStation Network and Xbox Live services. Sony appears to have gotten their online ducks in a row, but Microsoft is having a bit of an issue. As for Nintendo, nobody’s heard from them at all.
The Shutdown Law has forced Sony to implement amendments to the PSN whereby nobody under the age of sixteen will be allowed to make a new PSN account – this will be monitored by keeping an eye on IP addresses. PSN gamers under the age of sixteen will also experience a PlayStation Network blackout between midnight and 6AM. This has to be in place by this Friday (18 November).
Owing to the small time frame, Microsoft said that they might have a few problems in meeting the deadline. Their main issue is that signing up for Xbox Live doesn’t always collect age verifying information in South Korea. Their possible solution to this problem: shutting down Xbox Live for everyone in South Korea between midnight and 6AM.
Let’s expunge the elephant in the room quickly: why don’t the South Korean kids just lie about their age when signing up? Well, apparently online account sign-ups in South Korea all require an individual to enter an ID number of sorts. That ID number is then cross-checked with the name of the person signing up for the account. The person’s age is tied to the ID number, much like ours is in South Africa. So even if a South Korean kid wanted to lie about his or her age while signing up to an online service, they wouldn’t be able to thanks to their ID number. On top of this, many online sign-ups in South Korea require a cell phone number to be provided. In South Korea, a person’s identity is tied to their cell phone number as well.
The Shutdown Law is meant to ensure that South Korea’s youth gets a good night sleep each night. Of course the law only applies to online gaming so South Korean kids could just switch to single-player games and carry on all night if they wanted to. Way to solve the root of the “problem”, South Korea!