Very interesting article. China has banned all people under the age of 18 from from any online games that contain "PK" (player killing; ie, going toe-to-toe with other players in an attempt to defeat them).
It's effective immediately, or I assume as immediate as gaming vendors can implement the age validation mechanism spoken of.
I would love to watch the riotous backlash in South Korea if the government were to try to do the same thing. The government would be overthrown by 800,000 12-17 year olds, I have no doubt. (and I'm serious)
The truth is, online gaming is an enormous market. In the game I play, Dark Age of Camelot, the total player base is in the hundreds of thousands. During the low periods of any given day, there are approximately 3,500 people online. During the peak periods, it can be as high as 30,000 or 40,000. That only accounts for one game out of about half a dozen games out there that are considered mainstream MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games) such as EverQuest and EverQuest II, World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, Lineage II, Final Fantasy XI Online, etc. I can only assume that as many as 150,000-250,000 people are online playing games at any given time.
Neal Stephenson's Metaverse, here we come! I estimate only 15-25 years before the Internet we know becomes far more immersive, involving online "avatars" (digital representations of our "meat" selves) roaming "avenues" that are cables and fibre-optic lines, chatting in "cafés" that are chat rooms and forums, and browsing in "stores" that are data nexi such as retail banking centres, personal websites, e-tailers, government e-services, etc. Internet II is already under development, so I'm thinking it will not be until the third rev of the Internet that we will see that kind of "information as metaphor" transformation.
Let's see if I'm right.