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Posted by Chuck Corbin on Jun 18, 2012

South Korea Bans Trading Of Online Items In Game

Whenever you’re playing a game, be it Diablo III or Team Fortress 2 or whatever, sometimes you run into a problem where the item you just received is useless to you. Now, most of these games have a system in place where you’re able to trade those previously-useless items to somebody else and receive something that’s a bit more useful. Starting next month, however, you won’t have that option anymore if you live in South Korea.

In an effort to keep the youth of the country from “wasting time” while they could be studying, South Korea will be banning all in-game trade of virtual items. Kim Kap-soo, head of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Television said that “the main purpose of the games is for entertainment and should be used for academic and other good purposes.” I have to ask, though, how should gaming be “academic”? In my mind, gaming is already pretty academic. I’ve learned quite a bit about puzzle solving and critical thinking from games, and if anything, I would think that online trading, like Diablo III’s auction house, would be a perfect, safe example of an entire economy.

South Korea’s Ministry also claims that most of the virtual items collected in games are gathered automatically, in the form of bots. While it might be an admirable goal to legally ban bots and gold-farming, the game makers already do that exact kind of thing, banning thousands of people a month and stripping them of their accounts. And, with this ban on virtual item trading, who is going to enforce it, how are they going to enforce it, and why should they enforce it? If the police are being told to enforce this law, how long will they bust into peoples homes to arrest them for trading in-game items before they decide there efforts are best directed elsewhere? This is a perfect example of a reactionary, “won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children?!” law that I’ve ever seen. In many ways it’s completely useless, except that in the future many games will either have to be entirely reworked to be released in South Korea, or they just won’t be sold there at all. Nobody truly wins.

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