Ho Chi Minh City authorities and online game publishers voiced their concerns and discussed measures to control online gaming at the program “Talk and Do” televised August 1 by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Council in partnership with HCMC TV.
Le Hong Minh, general director of Vinagame, one of Vietnam’s leading online game publishers, said, “We never want our customers to play [online] games so much that it leads to addiction. Therefore, we completely support the opinion on tightening control of online gaming.”
“I think all publishers don’t want to publish games involving extreme violence,” he added.
Le Manh Ha, director of the city Department of Information and Communications, said, “As a State management agency, we have never had an opinion on prohibiting online gaming, but only the violent and unwholesome content of online games.”
“The Government always encourages companies to develop wholesome online games,” he added.
Mr. Ha compared ill effects caused by online games to drugs, saying that online games and drugs are similar in causing deep addiction that is difficult to overcome, and which create negative impacts on health and personality.
However, online game addiction is different from drug addiction, as it takes hold much faster than drug addiction, because families are less aware of the evils which often accompany online gaming, he added.
He said State management agencies have a role in warning them, but the main responsibility belongs to online game companies.
The council’s chairwoman, Pham Phuong Thao, posed a question about the standards which rate the violence levels of online games.
Replying her question, Tran Vinh Sa, an official from the city Department of Information and Communications, said his department has twice suggested that the Ministry of Information and Communication should set the standards, but so far they have yet to complete the task.
He said based on information received from parents and social opinions, the department has ranked levels of violence according to actions in games, including killing by weaponless or cold weapons (knife and sword), hot weapons (gun, bomb and bullet) and gamers’ roles (in terms of which characters are considered ‘good’ and ‘bad’).
The department will use the above-mentioned standards to propose diminishing serious violence from online games.
Mr. Minh said in Vietnam not only online games, but many other entertainment forms such as movies, magazines and books also have yet to include recommendation on age appropriateness.
Mr. Minh said online gaming is popular in many countries, but that children in Vietnam and China are gaming obsessively because the two countries have so many internet shops, which create a favorable environment for children to play online games.
Therefore, internet shops have to be monitored tightly, he added.
Mr. Ha said, “I think, instead of tightening control over Internet shops, we should manage online game publishers and providers.”
The issue must be resolved from the point of origin, meaning that the importation of online games involving violence and adverse content needs to come to a halt, he added.
He said publishers have to cooperate with management agencies to appraise levels of violence present in online games.
The department had asked game enterprises to appraise the violence levels of each of their games, but so far, many big companies have yet to do so, he said.
In future, if any enterprises do not rank their games according to their levels of violence, they would be penalized, Mr. Ha added.
Nguyen The Thanh, a council deputy, said circulation of online games involving violence must be determinedly halted regardless of previous approval by relevant agencies.
Concluding the program, council chairwoman Thao said the country has 23 million internet users, or 26 percent of the country’s population.
The city alone has about four million internet users and over half of them play online games, mostly students.
If content of games and the amount of time spent playing them are not controlled, negative social consequences will arise, she added.
Ms. Thao spelled out some measures, saying that new regulations on management of online games are urgently needed to replace the old ones; licensed games have to be reappraised, gamers and the amount of time spent playing games have to be monitored, and more wholesome entertainment for young people needs to be created.
|Doctor Trinh Tat Thang, director of Psychiatric Hospital, warned that just playing online games for over two hours a day makes gamers prone to addiction. Children who play online games will lose their ego, especially minors, as their personalities have yet to form fully.
If minors become addicted to online games, they will become isolated, unable to adapt to life and suffer diminished relationships with their families and society.
Related article:City suggests Gov’t ban importation of online games
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