Online game curfew proposed to curb youth addiction

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Online game companies will not be allowed to let gamers play between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., according to a draft regulation by the Vietnamese government aiming to curb youth addiction to the new phenomenon.

Many students spent too long playing online games, neglecting studying, while some others even committed crimes because of game addiction, Do Quy Doan, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, told a seminar on Thursday in Hanoi.

The seminar aimed to introduce the draft regulation and collect public opinions about it.

"Moreover, the online game market is new [to Vietnam]. It needs to be managed well to ensure [game] companies' development and restrict negative effects on players," he said.

Doan said the draft decision might affect some adult gamers but the number of these players was not large.

However, Le Hong Minh, director of VinaGame, the country's top online game firm, disagreed.

"The limit mainly aims to control children and teenagers. But in fact, most of them come back home after 10 p.m. Just a few still stay in Internet cafes. So, it is parents' responsibilities to manage their children in this case."

"After 10 p.m., there are many other people wanting to entertain with games. In our operation, we recognize that adult gamers account for a large number of our customers. Seriously, this is the type of customer we are concerned most with as they have the financial capacity to generate more revenue for us."

Lam Thanh, strategic manager of online game provider VTC Intecom, echoed Minh's viewpoint, saying that many adults were not free to play games before 10 p.m.

"Banning online games after 10 p.m. should be applied to Internet cafes only," he said.

Bui Xuan Long, a businessman and an online gamer, said, "The limit is unfair to adults. I go to my office at 8 a.m. and come back home at 5 p.m. After that, I take a bath, have dinner, and play with my children until 10 p.m. So,  now won't I be allowed to entertain myself with online games anymore?.

"If the government bans local online game companies from supplying their services after 10 p.m., players will rush to foreign firms' games," said Long.

Under the draft regulation, each person is allowed to play for a maximum of five hours a day if they engage in "preferential games" and three hours at most if they play other games.

"Preferential games" are games whose contents are to introduce and promote Vietnam's history and culture.

But a representative from game supplier Asiasoft told the seminar each gamer should be permitted to play five hours regardless of game types.

Doan said his ministry would review the draft regulation and make proper adjustments before submitting it to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung for approval next month.

Vietnam has 12 million gamers, the majority of whom are students and office workers, Vietnam Software Association said at a conference in late last year.

Internet cafes throughout the country are almost always packed with young people playing online games.

According to a report released from US-based Pearl Research earlier this year, the number of gamers in Vietnam will exceed 25 million by 2014, thanks to the growing economy.

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