Minecraft is a multi-platform “open-world” adventure game by Mojang. In concept, it is similar to a virtual lego-building game. Players spawn in an empty virtual environment in which they use in-game tools to construct objects, explore environments and survive. It is the best-selling video game to date, having sold 200 million copies across all platforms.
Minecraft also distinguishes itself from other instructional games, which are frequently restrictive and rigid. It’s actually enjoyable. Enabling children to understand collaboration when playing survival mode with their friends or learning basic programming in class. Some schools, today have begun to include Minecraft in the classroom.
However, in South Korea, the relatively benign game is now only available to those aged 19 and over.
The Repressive Law
The South Korean, “Shutdown law” or “Cinderella law”, blocks those under the age of 16 from playing/accessing online video games after midnight to 6 a.m. These measures are in place to “protect” children from the negative consequences of online gaming.
How it impacts Minecraft?
As per The Korean Herald, the aforementioned law, which went into effect in 2011, created technological hurdles for international game firms. Since establishing a new system that can screen out users based on age and time was not possible. To avoid this, Microsoft, instead of launching dedicated servers, altered its policy in 2012. Requiring Korean customers to verify their age in order to play Microsoft games.
Microsoft acquired Mojang in 2014. Initially, teenagers, through their Mojan Studios account could easily access the game. But due to security concerns, Microsoft began asking players to switch their accounts to Xbox live to play the game. Unaware of the consequences of such a move on Korean users.
After being made playable only through Xbox Live, which required players in Korea to show they are 19 years or older, overnight, Minecraft Java Edition became R-rated.
As of now, Microsoft, post a transitionary-grace-period in December 2020 (to switch accounts), stated on the official Minecraft website, “For players in South Korea, you must be 19 years of age or older to purchase and play the Java edition of Minecraft”. While lawmakers are actively working to scrap/make revisions to the “Shutdown law”. Unofficial petitions as of Sunday morning, calling for the abolishment of the law have garnered huge support. What happens next remains to be seen.