South Korea has ordered the operators of the three most popular South Korean online games to block overnight access by users under the age of 18.
The curfew is a response to the case last month of a young couple who allowed their baby to starve to death while they raised a virtual child in an online game. The tragedy shocked the country and sparked calls for safeguards against web addiction.
Gaming is big business in Korea, with some 30 per cent of the population regularly playing online games from such industry leaders as NCSoft and Nexon, which together control nearly a quarter of the global market. The domestic market is estimated to be worth about $2.4bn, with exports valued at more than $1bn.
The country’s culture ministry on Tuesday ordered the operators of the MapleStory, Mabinogi and Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds games to block access by users under 18 between midnight and 8am by September. Other games would follow suit later.