[CON] A ridiculous, outmoded system
Will the gaming evaluation system work?
* The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family is pushing forward an evaluation system on computer games for young players. Before starting the “shutdown” system that restricts youngsters’ online game play next year, the ministry seeks to establish standards to evaluate the games. The plan has been strongly protested by the game industry for impacting business. Earlier this month, the industry hosted a game competition to ridicule the proposal.
Recently, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family withdrew its classification on 293 Korean pop songs as harmful to youngsters.
Although the ministry gave various excuses, it was aimed to lift the labeling on Psy’s song, “Right Now.” The ministry strongly insisted that those songs were harmful - until the fever of “Gangnam Style” swept the world and the public pressured the ministry to lift the classification.
On the day after the ministry’s withdrawal, a 16-year-old professional gamer of Korea gave up a match in an international competition. “Oh! It’s time for shutdown!” he said and left the arena at 11:58 p.m., and 10,000 fans who were watching the match were shocked. It was the outcome of the curfew that the ministry ambitiously created to protect youngsters.
Following the shutdown system, a public notice was made to introduce an evaluation system of Internet games for youngsters. The ministry appeared to have no intention to revise or scrap the evaluation plan because the standard was “objective and fair.”
To put it bluntly, the ministry is making a fool of itself once again.
The shutdown system not only infringes upon the decision-making rights of youngsters and parents’ right to educate their children, but also shows little effectiveness.
After the system was adopted, the number of youngsters playing games late at night went down by only 3 percent. Two constitutional petitions have already been filed against the system. And yet, the ministry planned an additional evaluation system, instead of contemplating the problems associated with the shutdown system.
The ministry’s standards were to evaluate mutual interaction, compensation and competitiveness. They are all factors of “fun.” Having fun is the essence of the hobbies, including game playing, but the ministry is arguing that it is a problem.
Many scholars said one of the positive roles of online games is improving social interaction ability, and why is the ministry considering it as a standard for a bad game?
The criteria are not to determine a game’s harmfulness, but whether or not to apply the shutdown system, the ministry explained. But that is not convincing.
The ministry wants to measure the factors that make the players want to play the games longer, and the pre-context is that a game that a player plays for a long time is a harmful game. Many parents promise gifts to their children when their grades go up, and students also study hard when their grades go up. They may not sleep enough to study, so their health can be harmed.
Using the ministry’s standard, studying should also be regulated because of its mechanism for compensation or competitiveness.
There are many problems on the measurements, and the ministry also demonstrated extreme ignorance about games. When a player succeeds in a mission, the gamer will get a level-up and that cannot be a standard for a bad game.
The true issue here is the obstinate belief that “less gaming is better” was used to create a policy.
The ministry ignored the reality that playing games is one of few hobbies for youngsters. It pays no attention to the environment which makes the students concentrate on game playing.
The ministry must not try to resolve this problem with a stopgap measure of simply using force to ban game playing. Its first step must be paying attention to the everyday lives of children.
The ridiculous evaluation plan, as well as the obsolete idea of the shutdown system, must be abolished, if the ministry doesn’t want to become a subject of mockery once again like it was for Psy’s “Right Now” incident and what happened at the international game competition.
*The author is a professor of the Graduate School of Communication and Arts at Yonsei University.
By Yoon Tae-jin