This June, a bill goes before the South Korean National Assembly which will limit the amount of time any player under 18 can spend gaming online to just three hours. Companies which fail to enforce the law will be subject to heavy fines.
According to a government survey of 3,000 Korean internet users in 2005, 26 percent of preteens and teenagers agreed they spent too long online. China is also seeking to control the amount of time its citizens spend online playing “violent” games.
While growing interest in massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), continues to worry Asian governments, the genre has at least shifted the traditional gaming gender mix. In India and China where game systems and software can be prohibitively expensive, and broadband access limited, Internet cafe play is nearly 50-50 male/female.
According to an AP-AOL survey 42 per cent of the online gamers spend at least four hours a week playing games. One in six plays more than 10 hours. Those who have absolutely no lives rack up more than 40 hours a week exploring their beautifully rendered artificial worlds.
This translates to big profits for developers. World of warcraft (pictured) has more than six million members who spend more than $1 billion in subscription fees each year. By Andy Marken