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This Week In Korean Online Gaming News: Mabinogi To Special Force

Gamasutra rounds up the week's biggest reports on South Korea's booming online games market from local news site This Is Game, this time looking at real-money trading in Mabinogi, the online gaming shut
[Gamasutra rounds up the week's biggest reports on South Korea's booming online games market from This Is Game, the leading English-language site about the country's game industry.] In our latest round-up of news from South Korea's online games space, we look at real-money trading in Mabinogi, the online gaming shutdown law, and the rising popularity of Dragonfly's Special Force in China as an eSport game. Nexon Suspends Mabinogi To Deal With Real-Money Traders Nexon suspended Mabinogi service in South Korea starting October 4th and has kept the popular free-to-play MMORPG offline since as it conducts server maintenance meant to update its security system and combat real-money trading (RMT), or unauthorized third-party sales of virtual goods and currency.  The publisher says it has noticed an increase in RMT activities and "bots" harvesting in-game currency, and thus is conducting an investigation over the matter, and implementing a widespread system update to root out the violators. It intends to compensate players for the game's downtime, too. Mabinogi's users were given little warning before the game was taken offline, nor an explanation until later on. Some speculated that the game shut down after suffering issues with rampant duplication of virtual currency, but Nexon denies that is the case, insisting that RMT and gold farmers are the cause. Online Gaming Shutdown Law Could Help Children Sleep More, Control Addiction The South Korean government's Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and the Korean Youth Counseling Institute hosted a public debate late last month on the recently passed Shutdown Law, a policy that will soon ban children aged under 16 from playing online games during a late night six-hour block. During the debate, researcher KeunYoung Jang claimed internet addiction is becoming more prevalent with children and high-risk groups, and that the Shutdown Law could help fight this. He also said children get less sleep due to internet addiction and over-studying, which again is addressed by the Shutdown Law. JooMi Bae, a representative for KYCI's internet addiction group, admitted that while the Shutdown Law isn't perfect, she believes that many parents appreciate the law, as many of them work late and are often unable to take steps to control their children's internet or online gaming addiction themselves. "Some people oppose the system by saying that the government is violating the parents' role and that it is over protection," said Bae. "But, in reality, the parents are having a really hard time controlling their children from the addiction. As a hands-on worker in the field, I believe the Shutdown Law would help both parents and the children eventually." Special Force Becoming An eSports Staple In China Special Force, a free-to-play first-person shooter created by Korean developer Dragonfly (Karma, The Tour of Duty), is drawing attention in China as it's featured as an official game in a growing number of eSports tournaments there, including WCG 2011, IEF 2011, SFWC 2011. The title's Chinese publisher CDC Games remarks that eSports are experiencing a renaissance in China due to the government's support of the competitive gaming community. The company also recently helped raise the game's profile even more by hosting a Special Force International Tournament in Beijing. "As online games have grown so rapidly, they have replaced [console and packaged titles as the official games for eSports]," boasted a representative for Shanghai-based CDC Games. "To follow this trend, we are going to [take over] the Chinese first-person shooter market with Special Force." [This story was written with the permission of, and using material from ThisIsGame Global, the leading English-language site about the South Korean game industry.]

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