South Korea has suggested online gaming should be categorised alongside gambling, drugs and alcohol as a potentially 'anti-social' addiction under proposals for a law currently being considered by parliament.
The legislation is supported by 14 of the ruling party law makers and comes after a law was passed in 2011 banning anyone under the age of 16 playing online games between midnight and dawn. This law is currently being challenged at South Korea's constitutional court.
It would include limiting gaming advertising and building a fund to beat addiction by taking one per cent of the gaming industry's revenue.
Online gaming has become a significant export industry in South Korea. In 2012, "MapleStory" and other online game titles earned more cash from abroad for South Korea than the YouTube sensation "Gangnam Style," K-pop music, movies and other cultural exports combined.
"There is a huge prejudice that gaming is harmful," said Lee Byung-chan, an attorney involved in the Constitutional Court case. "Games are as harmful as alcohol, drugs and gambling, that's the prejudice," Lee told The Associated Press.
In a study looking at internet gaming addiction in 2011, the South Korean government reported125,000 young people aged 10-19 required treatment for excessive online gaming or were 'at risk' of addiction.
However, gaming companies have argued such a bill would be a death sentence for the industry. In a statement, the Korea Internet and Digital Entertainment Association, which represents game companies said: "The 100,000 people employed in the game industry are not drugmakers."
Additional reporting by Associated PressReuse content