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Sony bans Korean teens from online gaming

Controversy surrounding the country’s game shut-down system, also known as the game curfew, is escalating as it is seemingly expanding its boundaries to console games like Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox.

Sony Computer Entertainment Korea said earlier this week that it will ban those under 16 from logging into their PlayStation games starting from 11 p.m. Friday to comply with the Korean regulation.

“Our head office has decided to prohibit the log-in and accepting new registration of users under 16-years old for various reasons, which includes testing the system,” said an official at SCEK.

This comes as the government is getting ready to implement a law called the “shutdown system,” which bans online game users under 16 from logging onto online game sites from 12-6 a.m. in a bid to fight teen game addiction.

Console games, such as those for the PlayStation and Xbox, were supposedly exempt from the list of games that must implement the new system beginning this week.

“When we looked into the enforcement ordinance, it stated that games that made users pay during the plays were included in the ban list even if it were console games,” said a SCEK official.

For the PlayStation, multi-player games are free-of-charge, but the game players must pay fees to download content, such as when purchasing certain items, and it prohibits teenagers from accessing the games late at night, according to the official.

Microsoft, on the other hand, said it is waiting for an answer from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family on whether its subscription-based system Xbox LIVE is on the 12 a.m. ban list.

“We respect the government’s position on the issue, but we also have to negotiate with our U.S. headquarters to reflect the answers we get from the Korean government,” said a Microsoft spokesperson.

In response, a government official from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said that subscription-based games, whether designed for PlayStation or Xbox, need to be regulated since the games, which are not free-of-charge, are no different from online games.

By Cho Ji-hyun (sharon@heraldcorp.com)
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