This article is the sole opinion of the author and does not represent the opinion of Heaven Media Ltd or the opinion of any affiliates.
"A couple whose baby daughter starved while they spent up to 12 hours a day in internet cafes raising a virtual child online have made headlines around the world," a line straight from the BBC Technology page, and something that you really don't expect to hear in the gaming world. There have always been cases where gaming has taken over, but very rarely do you hear about it getting to a level like this.
This of course comes from South Korea, any area of the world where gaming is seen completely differently to the rest of the world. Their celebrities are their top gamers, and finding articles and scores about the latest Starcraft matches in the morning paper would be completely acceptable. But yesterday it was announced that South Korea are going to try and stop the younger generation from spending the hours they do playing games.
With policies coming into place such as "barring online gaming access to young people of school age between 12am (midnight) and 8am" and "slowing down people's internet connections after they have been logged on to certain games for a long period of time", it is clear that South Korea are wanting to make a change to their younger generation.
This got me thinking about the kids here in the UK, and the way they treat gaming. Growing up, I did play games on the PC and consoles, and if my parents hadn't got in the way, I would have played them an awful lot more than I actually did. Now there are regular news stories of how our kids are too fat, unhealthy, and spend far too much time in front of their TVs than they do out in the parks or reading a book for example.
So do we need a policy similar to the one being implemented in South Korea, stopping our kids from playing games? To understand this you need to take a look at the sociological differences between the two types of kids, the European kids and the South Korean ones. Gaming in South Korea is a national sport, it is their equivalent to our football. Kids here will all know about Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard; they are their idols. But in South Korea the equivalent idols will be Lee Yun-Yeol or Park Sung-Joon, two of the best Starcraft players in the country.
To the South Korean kids, this is their lifestyle, and you wouldn't dream of stopping them doing it. Their parents take part in it all, and encourage them to play the game and try and become the next best gamer. Football or another sport takes the exact same approach in the UK, with parents pushing their kids to go out and play on the streets, and master their skills with a ball. They will take them to watch games, and let them get their magazines of the top players.
But would you ever consider in stopping the UK kids from going to the park every night and kicking a ball around? No you would completely back this. Then how come it is so different in South Korea? This is their lifestyle so why should the government take it away from them? The immediate answer is simply that football and sport is considered to be a lot healthier and better for you than gaming is, and it won't mess up your school career. How often do we hear in the news that people playing games has completely stopped them from doing well at school, but you never really hear about people failing exams because they have been outside playing football all day long. This is a lot more socially acceptable than gaming is, at least in the UK.
So what is the actual problem with UK kids and gaming? How come it seems to always make the news that kids are now too fat and unhealthy, and this is all down to gaming? The world has evolved, and the toys that kept the older generations occupied simply don't work modern day kids. Their friends talk about how they have managed to complete the final mission in the latest Mario game, and they don't want to feel left out.
But recently there has been a big push to try and make gaming become more acceptable, and to try and remove this taboo that it has in the West, almost make it more like it is in South Korea. But we are doing it in a completely different way.
The Wii has played a huge part in making gaming become far more socially acceptable, with its aims to make it more family orientated, as well as giving you the chance to do things such as Wii Fit as well as play Tennis etc, all things that will get you moving around. The Nitendo Wii offers some great chances to test your mind with puzzling games and brain teasers.
At Gadget Show Live this weekend, I was watching as ReDeYe stood in the middle of the stage, and got 3 young girls up giving them a chance to walk away with a great prize. All they needed to do was do press-ups. On previous days he had done other things involving mind games with everyone there. The idea behind all of this was to show everyone that gamer kids were not overweight, poorly routine, sunlight deprived, bedroom dwelling geeks with no social skills. They were able to perform the press-ups, and they could answer a lot of the basic brain teasers that were thrown their way.
So kids in the UK still seem to get a lot of scrutiny about playing games, but realistically they are not playing games that seriously compared to the South Koreans. South Korean kids are more likely to be sat in front of their PCs playing online role playing games for hours on end, building up their virtual families, and trying to improve their social status, but through a virtual world. By the standard stereotype of the West, they would all be seen as socially deprived, bedroom dwelling geeks.
But this is their way of life, this is socially acceptable for them? Should the government really be trying to intervene and stop them from doing just this? This offers up some big moral questions, as to whether we should conform to local social standards, or more globally accepted ones. They are clearly that people should be outside more, should be able to speak to people in person, and interact with their peers without having to do it through a keyboard.
This seems to be the idea that the South Korean government has, trying to change the way their children are brought up. However, they are not enforcing the system, they are simply giving the parents a chance to easily enforce it, and stop their kids from playing the game for as long as they do. But again comparing it to the UK, would a mad Football fanatic stop his son from playing the game? So in South Korea will a mad gaming family stop their kids from playing games as well? Most likely not.
Is this right? One thing for sure it is different to what we are used to, and if it is pushed through, and enforced, it could change the way South Korea sees gaming completely. Whether that will affect the way Esports is conveyed unclear at the moment, but one thing is for sure, Gaming is increasingly making its way into the headlines, unfortunately at the moment for the wrong reasons.
|Tom Nevill // DuRuS|
Posted 3 years ago: Wed, 14 Apr 2010 19:46:08 +0100
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