Minecraft, otherwise known as child-crack, has found itself in a hellish bureaucratic purgatory in South Korea. The consequence of which, rather amusingly, is that it is now essentially R-rated (restricted to players 19+).
Minecraft is the sort of video game where you can do pretty much anything you set your mind to. If you want to build a peaceful utopia, full of gorgeous buildings and lush forests, you can. Or you could just as easily create a surreal nightmare world that will haunt the dreams of half the internet for millennia – the choice, as they say, is yours.
This enormously malleable game world, along with the creative tools given to you by the developers, has made Minecraft a phenomenon. YouTube stars, streamers, professional gamers, even acclaimed indie music darlings, have all found a way to use the video game as a platform to achieve celebrity, fame, and fortune.
However, no one is more responsible for the massive rise of Minecraft than the fans – of which a large number are minors. The game is generally thought of as child-friendly, although as you can imagine the open-ended nature of the game can lead to some controversy.
Think of Minecraft as the video game equivalent of LEGO blocks; you can craft a penis out of them if you desire, but that’s hardly the LEGO’s fault now is it? Accordingly, it is rated PG in Australia (noted video game censors) due to “Mild violence, Gaming experience may change online”.
So if I told you that Minecraft has just been restricted to players of 19 and over in South Korea, you would probably assume it stems from this soft of freedom. It might even spark your curiosity, as it did my own, to investigate what monstrosity someone had cooked up to force the Classification Board’s hand. You would be wrong though.
Rather, Minecraft has, from a practical standpoint at least, been given an R-rating in South Korea due to a silly legal oversight. To play the game in South Korea you must now use an Xbox Live account, for which you must be 19 years or older to register for.
Until recently, players were able to use a Mojang account (12+) to dodge this problem.
These restrictions are related to a South Korean law that was passed in 2011, referred to as the ‘Cinderella Law’, which aimed to stop children from playing games between the hours of midnight and 6am. Because Microsoft didn’t wish to screen players or risk potential legal repercussions, they simply changed their terms of service to only allow players that were not affected by this law.
It seems a problem that could be easily solved, but it will require either Microsoft or the South Korean government to make some form of concession. Considering the probable backlash, and the fact that Minecraft is the most popular game in South Korea, it would seem prudent for the government to sort it out – quickly.