Bloter: Is Korea’s Gaming Law Worth the Hassle?

Korea’s new “Cinderella Law”, which bans kids aged 16 and under from playing online games between midnight and 6 a.m., has stirred a fair bit of controversy since being passed by Korea’s National Assembly last month (it’s due to come into effect in October). Now, a new study from Nielsen Korea raises questions about whether it was even worth all the bother.

Implying that — gasp! — this legislation was based on populism rather than any rigorous analysis, Bloter complains that there are no clear definitions of what constitutes addiction or “over-immersion,” that the law will be difficult to enforce and, most fundamentally, that it may have little effect in achieving its stated aims.

Here’s why:

cinderella law korea statistics

As this graph of leisure time among different age groups shows, Korean kids — aged between 9 and 19 — do indeed spend an awful lot of their time playing games: between 41.8 and 44.1 percent. (TV and music are a distant second and third.)

In terms of raw numbers, in April of this year there were roughly 12.67 million gamers in Korea, of whom around 3.7 million were aged between 7 and 18. This means approximately 30 percent of Korea’s gamers fall in the age group that the Cinderella Law is aimed at.

But, as Bloter points out, between the hours of 12 and 6 the share of kiddie gamers already plummets to well below 15 percent:

As this graph shows, from a peak of 26.4 percent at 6pm, by midnight just 10.2 percent of gamers are between 7 and 18. This drops to 4.8 percent by 5am, before recovering slightly to 6 percent by 6am.

In the case of popular MMORPG Maple Story, that contrast is even more pronounced. At 5pm, a massive 44.8 percent of Maple Story players are between 7 and 18, a proportion that drops to practically zero between the hours of 2am and 6am.

As Bloter rightly asks, with so few young ‘uns apparently playing games between the witching hours of midnight and 6am, what difference will the Cinderella Law really make?

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