South Korean Politicians Want Video Games Placed Alongside Drugs And Alcohol In Legislation For Addiction

from the you-holding?--i-need-one-more-turn dept

As you should know by now, there are people in this world that think an addiction to the internet and/or video games is a thing. As in, a real thing, a real disorder. This, despite all the evidence that there is no such disorder and that video games are no more addictive than work or school. But scaring the hell out of people with official-sounding terminology makes for great business, leading to care-givers and hospitals opening up entirely new revenue-generators practices for treating these heretofore unproven "diseases."

However, lest you think that fact-less platforms are the exclusive realm of the medical profession, take a look at how some South Korean politicians are trying to craft legislation that places video game addiction as the lunch-meat in their alcohol and drugs sandwich.

According to the Ministry of Welfare, four major categories of addiction where medical treatment is needed are 2.18 million alcoholics, 0.47 million internet gamers, 0.59 million gamblers, and 0.09 million drug addicts. The sum of them accounts for 6.7 precent of the population which adds up to 3.33 million people. This country has to be be saved from the four major addictions. We have to understand the pain individuals and families of alcohol, drugs, gambling, and game addicts go through, heal them and provide them with a proper environment so we can save our society from these evils.
That proper environment, unsurprisingly, essentially amounts to the regulation and hell-out-of taxation on the South Korean gaming industry, which is booming. This, after all, is the country leading the way in eSports. And this "addiction" legislation is coming from the conservative majority party, meaning it actually has a real chance at passing. And they've already passed laws creating blackout times during the day when children can't log into their console game connections. Personally, I wasn't aware that every child in South Korea had somehow bound and gagged their parents, but what do I know?

Well, for starters, I know that crafting legislation to take on fictional problems might be a great way to make headlines, but it doesn't actually do anything useful for the citizenry. I also know that the trend in entertainment in developed nations, like South Korea, is such that some day all of these game-addicted kids are going to be all-growed-up voting citizens, so the conservative party had better get their kicks while they can, because they'll have plenty of opposition in a matter of years. And, more than anything, placing video games anywhere near substances like alcohol and illicit narcotics is just stupid.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 3:57am

    Shit guys, people are having fun. How do we fix this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 4:23am

    Speaking of addictions, does anyone know how to cure politicians of their addiction to regulating everything?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 4:26am

    What makes this even more absurd is that gaming is huge in South Korea. People make their living playing video games in front of audiences. They have two channels devoted to it!

    This is on par with trying to diagnose a kid who plays baseball a lot for being addicted to playing baseball when they are aspiring to go pro some day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    PaulT (profile), Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 4:45am


    In my mind, it's really the same as a gambling addiction, if it's really an addiction at all. There's no external chemical component (unlike many drug, alcohol or tobacco addictions), so it doesn't really belong in that class. But, some people can take having fun too far at the expense of their families or their personal wellbeing, be that the financial ruin often caused by gambling habits or the problems caused by sex addiction. Those need counselling and intervention, perhaps, but nothing specific to the activity itself, AFAIK.

    I'm neither a medical expert on such matters nor an expert on Korean politics (any experts are free to chime in), but I suspect this has more to do with typical diversion tactics from a "conservative" party than any problem that needs further classification and legislation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 4:51am

    One would think the people of S Korea have more pressing issues to address.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 5:01am

    Is addiction a single issue or all addictions have something in common?

    I see addiction to anything as addiction, someone that is addicted to anything good or bad is susceptible to that behavior the path of addiction must be the same doesn't matter what is it that people get addicted to.

    This is why I see such laws as a waste of time, maybe they are good for PR, maybe those things have other uses but I doubt that they are of any help for any addicted person.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    ethorad (profile), Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 5:09am


    IANAD (I'm not a doctor)

    It seems that there's two core addictions:
    - physical addiction. Caused by an external chemical which forces the body to crave more. Drugs, nicotine, etc.
    - psychological addiction. Caused by the body's response to something (eg releasing endorphins during exercise) which can cause addiction to whatever triggers that response

    Just as there's lots of drugs which can be addictive, there are lots of different actions which can end up being addictive if the person in question goes to extremes. as an example you get people addicted to exercise, shopping, committing crimes (eg kleptomaniacs), gamblers, and of course people who spend too long on certain leisure activities - TV, games, etc.

    To the extent that an obsession with something impacts your ability to live a balanced life then some form of counselling would be useful. However as long as your obsession doesn't involve criminal behaviour (eg kleptomania), or causes wider problems (eg violent drunks) I don't see it as being a problem for the state.

    But then as an AC above commented, another addiction seems to be creating legislation - and politicians have it bad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    avideogameplayer, Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 5:20am

    Wait, wait, wait...we're talking about SOUTH Korea?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 5:29am

    Mental health people have been adding new 'mental illnesses' a lot lately, as if trying to make themselves more money by getting more people declared mentally ill in some way. Among the new mental issues that now have some scientific name and treatment available are an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 5:36am


    And while we're at it, how can we screw ourselves over long term for generations to come?

    Immigration and race/gay rights issues to turn away the youth generation against us are overdone elsewhere in the world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 5:39am


    Most types of addiction happen when you are depressed. I was addicted to video games for a while when depressed, its a good way to feel even slightly positive about your existence when really it has no lasting benefit.

    Mental addiction should be tackled as a whole, rather than directing laws at new scary technology.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 5:51am

    To be fair...

    There are documented cases of people in S. Korea who have stayed up for days and starved to death while playing games.

    Still, instead of regulating it, they should try to promote a more healthy lifestyle by telling them to take 30-60 minutes a day to exercise and eat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 6:59am

    so i suppose one way of 'saving people from these evils' is to enforce stronger internet laws, preventing people from downloading the games? bear in mind though, that it will include the restriction of downloading ALL GAMES from ALL SOURCES, legitimate or not!
    i'm waiting now for the ridiculous claims that downloading from legal sources is perfectly fine. it's only the downloading from illegal sources that causes addiction!
    what bollocks!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Shadow Dragon (profile), Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 7:09am


    That sorta thing could be describe as a mental illnes ironicly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Internet Zen Master (profile), Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 8:13am

    Re: To be fair...

    When I think the most obsessive, hyper-focused gamers, the country that usually pops into mind first is S. Korea. Do I think they're "addicted" to gaming? No.

    Having a PSA promoting a healthy lifestyle telling people to take 30-60 minutes a day to exercise/eat sounds much more reasonable than classifying video games in the same boat as gambling/alcoholism/drug addiction.

    Yeah, this definitely smells of the government trying to steal its "fair share" of the South Korean gaming industry's profit pie through regulation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 8:35am

    Re: Re:

    I would argue that videogames are addictive as an alternative reality within which the player finds fulfillment and reward for work that is lacking in real life.

    The solution is not to punish games but to use the formulas they get correct to improve society such that participating in it is similarly 'easy' and 'rewarding'. In short, there's not enough cool stuff happening in the real world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Brazilian Guy, Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: To be fair...

    Of course, you have to air the PSA in the interval between Starcraft matches, delivered by Zerg Drones:

    "By eating and exercising, you get a healthy lifestile and becomes an huge Ultralisk."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 10:17am

    Re: To be fair...

    You can find cases of people who behave in such extremely obsessive ways all over the world, and the target of their obsession can be anything at all. It's not unique to video games -- but the media really loves the "video games are killing people" angles.

    If video games didn't exist at all, those people in South Korea would still behave as they did, they'd just focus on something else to do it with.

    Video games aren't the problem, the problem is mental illness.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 5:47pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I would agree with this. There's enough "fuck you, that's why" going on away from the keyboard as is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2013 @ 7:51pm

    It is an addiction indeed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    DannyB (profile), Dec 4th, 2013 @ 5:01pm

    Addicted to paying taxes

    An awful lot of people seem to be addicted to paying taxes. Can this disorder be corrected?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    PaulT (profile), Dec 5th, 2013 @ 1:08am

    Re: Addicted to paying taxes

    Sure thing. If you can find a way for all the services and societal benefits they pay for to be provided without needing taxes, then you'll have a lot of people who stop doing that. Or are you one of those fools who thinks that all taxes have to be abolished because they pay for a couple of things you don't personally like or receive?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Hide this ad »
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Chat
Hide this ad »
Recent Stories
Advertisement - Amazon Prime Music
Hide this ad »


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.