The Weekly Raid: Korea Makes Account Boosting Criminal, Should The West Follow?

Korea has always had stiffer gaming regulations than the West. For years, account registration on Korean portals like Nexon or NCsoft required users to enter their Korean Social Security numbers, something alien to those of us who often use throwaway emails, names, and birthdays when registering.

On November 20, 2011, Korea's Youth Protection Revision Act came into force. Commonly reffered to as the Cinderella Law, the act forbids children under the age of 16 from playing games between midnight and 6am. There are also a host of laws restricting the amount of time minors can play games per day. Westerners who play Korean games will likely have noticed reminders that they have played for x hours and should consider a break. Those notices carry far more weight in Korea, where in-game mechanics hamper players' progress if they play for too long.

Now, Korea has introduced another piece of legislation that restricts gameplay. Account Boosting, the act of artificially increasing a player's in-game ranking, is now a criminal offense that carries a $18,000 fine and up to 2 years in prison.

The law is an amendment to Korea's existing Game Industry Promotion Act of 2017 which, among other things, made distributing hacks for online games like Overwatch a criminal offense. Several Koreans have already been prosecuted, and jailed, via the Game Industry Promotion Act so its only a matter of time before we see similar cases for account boosting.

What does this mean for the future of online gaming, both in Korea and worldwide. China, the world's largest gaming market, is going through a far greater regulatory overhaul. Here in America and Europe, we've so far avoided regulation. Games have started to self-censor when it comes to harassment and other unwanted speech, but governments have yet to intervene. That may change with the recent lootbox controversy, but only time will tell.

More broadly, should the West copy some of the regulatory decisions coming from Asia? Should account boosting be a crime? What about age restrictions, or government-ID checks to create accounts? Share your thoughts below!

Lifelong gamer always looking for the next virtual adventure. I'm still waiting for the next big MMORPG. Until then, you can find me hopping between multiple games.