Authorities in Thailand are set to impose a strict curfew on online gaming which will see access to online game servers blocked between 10pm and 6am every day, with Internet cafes also facing curbs to their business hours along the same lines.
The move, which is a trial measure set to run from July 15 to September 30, comes amid fears of rising rates of addiction to certain online games among younger players – with the Korean role-playing game Ragnarok Online being singled out as a particular cause for concern.
Ragnarok, which recently left its beta testing phase, was introduced to Thailand seven months ago and currently has well over half a million subscribers there. The game is also hugely popular in Korea, Japan and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, and its popularity is growing fast in the USA and Europe – leading to speculation that it will soon be the most popular online game in the world.
Thai Information and Communications Technology minister Surapong Suebwonglee announced the package of measures to combat online game addiction today, addressing concerns from parents and politicians that children as young as seven are becoming heavily addicted to the games and playing them for many hours at a time.
As well as the curfew, the measures also include mandatory play breaks every two hours in Internet cafes – presumably an attempt to combat afflictions such as deep vein thrombosis, caused by remaining sedentary for hours at a time, which have killed a number of gamers in the Far East in the past year.