What I said in the credits of 6180 the moon, the claim that the “South Korean government thinks games are social evils like drugs”, is actually a statement made by the head of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (I will refer to it as the Ministry of GE&F in this post). Before I go into detail about the atrocities of this utterly useless ministry, let me start with saying that they like turning the blame of everything going bad in South Korea to video games.
<A Satirical Comic (translated from Korean), Courtesy of gamemeca.com>
("Why can't you make something like Nintendo?" is a comment made by the former president of Korea, Myung-Bak Lee.
NC, HanGame, NetMarble, NeoWiz and Nexon are the biggest video game companies in Korea. Nexon recently moved to Japan, legally becoming a Japanese company.)
An example that has become a classic is a very amusing "experiment on the violent nature of video games" conducted by MBC News, one of the biggest news broadcasters in Korea. In this "experiment", the news team stealthily snuck into an Internet Cafe room full of gamers absorbed in video games, and turned off all the computers.
The result? A bunch of gamers became angry. Some of them let out some curse words. Some of them started complaining. But none of them actually did anything physical. The media's interpretation of this situation was, however, "The gamers could not accept the sudden change of events, and exploded with curses and violent actions everywhere. They had become like characters in a violent video game." And then the news went on to show an interview with a psychology professor, who says "When there is an obstruction that gets in the way, one may not be able to hold himself back from the aggressive emotion that surges." Note how this professor does not mention a THING about video games. Instead, she is just talking in general terms. If you were playing a game of chess with a friend and I suddenly kicked the chessboard like a soccer ball, wouldn't you be mad, too? If you were engrossed in reading a book and I punched the book flying out of your hands, are you sure you wouldn't be mad?
<The "Experiment" Conducted by MBC>
Although a trend of blaming everything on video games is somewhat prevalent globally, as when school shootings in the USA are blamed on video games (even though there is absolutely no correlation whatsoever to support such an argument), it is extreme in the South Korean government, chiefly by the Ministry of GE&F. Students not doing well in school? Video games must be the problem! Students not getting enough sleep? Video games! Students bullying each other? Those video games! Percentage of unemployed youth rising? Ah, those damn video games, we must get rid of them so that we may get rid of everything bad in this otherwise glorious nation!
Young-hee Choi: Senator / Head of the Board of Gender Equality and Family
"It's the same as drugs, so when we restrict it, they can't control themselves..."
"So are we going to put this burden on ordinary families' parents, mothers? I don't think so..."
"The nation should take the burden...">
That was the thought process, and it was soon taken into action. Starting November 2011, the South Korean government passed a bill that would restrict the gaming of all teenagers under the age of 16 from 12am to 6am. This law has a multitude of overlooked problems:
First of all, the obvious one: its purposes are unjustified from the start, and its results are considered unconstitutional by many. What rights do the government have to restrict the rights of teenagers? Who will compensate for the video game companies’ loss of revenue resulting from this law? Many sensible people think this law is unconstitutional, and a trial in the Constitutional Court is actually going on. But so far no luck.
Secondly, the law is tiresome, annoying and sometimes even fatal for video game companies. The company has to program new elements in order to block the connection of teenagers during the enforced time, and this may go against the company’s policies. Sure enough, Blizzard announced that there was no way they were able to implement such a feature in its decade-old classic Battle.net servers, and decided instead to shut down the servers from midnight to 6am for all players, regardless of their ages. PlayStation Network experienced a similar problem, and decided to shut down the entire network at all times to all players. Simply put, PSN doesn’t exist in South Korea anymore.
<Robert Baker from Blizzard>
Third, as stupid as it is, the law is extremely hard to enforce on the user end. The only way to determine a gamer’s age is by his/her social security number; however, even before the law was announced, numerous teenagers had been using their parents’ social security numbers to play R-rated games (I did, for one, and so did all my friends). If you ever get the chance to visit a South Korean PC Café, you’ll find numerous middle-school students screaming, being annoying and playing a very popular fps shooter called “Sudden Attack” – despite its rating of “Ages 18 and up”. In an environment where access to an adult's social security number is so easy, most teenagers bypassed the shut-down simply by using their parents' SSNs.
<A screenshot from Sudden Attack>
The list goes on and on. Professional teenage gamers have lost matches because the game automatically shut down at midnight. Even adults were restricted in playing video games, such as in the case of PSN. And more and more and more.
The shut-down policy is definitely one of the more pronounced, immediate and idiotic measures the government has taken to cleanse the nation of the evil that is video games, but it's not all. Another policy the government is considering implementing is a bill to force all video game companies to pay 1% of their profits for “video game addiction therapy purposes”. All for an "addiction" that we're not even sure exists, especially compared to the all-too-real alcohol addiction and gambling addiction. Guess how much the alcohol industry pays? 0.05%. The gambling industry? 0.03%.
A certain segment of the video gaming industry that is hurt most by these laws is the indie game industry. While it is a multi-million industry here in the USA, the indie game industry is virtually nonexistent in South Korea. Thanks in part to the Game Rating Board (GRB), which charges outrageous amounts of money(up to $5,000) to have your video games rated. The catch is, if your game is not rated by the GRB, it cannot be sold or distributed in South Korea. If we were to release it in Korea, 6180 the moon would have had to pay about $1,000 just to get rated. That is a significant amount of money, a portion of revenue that cannot be overlooked by small indie game studios. And as a result, while indie games are booming everywhere else in the world and praised as a new form of art, they are all dead in Korea.
So what can you do to help? Spread the word! Facebook it, talk to your friends about it, tweet it. The more the awareness, the better.
Wow, thanks for getting to the bottom of this incredibly long and rambling post. Did you enjoy the game, by the way? If you haven't bought it yet, you can go to www.indieroyale.com to get 6180 the moon and four other great indie games at a price you want. Alternatively, you can go to http://www.desura.com/games/6180-the-moon to get it. Visit the fellow developer Turtle Cream's website here.