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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 July, 2003, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Thailand restricts online gamers
Teenagers all over the world play computer games
People the world over participate in online gaming
Thailand is to impose a night curfew on online gaming, because of concerns about rising addiction rates among young players.

The curfew will mean that game servers will be blocked between 2200 and 0600 daily from 15 July, according to technology minister Surapong Suebwonglee.

Internet cafes specialising in online gaming have mushroomed in Thailand in recent years, with prices per hour averaging as little as 10 to 20 baht (24 to 48 cents) an hour.

Of particular concern is the Korean role-playing game Ragnarok, which has over 600,000 registered players in Thailand, many of them children.

Ragnarok has become a drug, and all of my friends are addicted to it. Nobody plays soccer with me now
Thai student

"As a matter of fact Ragnarok is not a violent game," said Mr Suebwonglee, "but its problem is that child players are becoming addicted, so we have to prevent children playing for long periods of time."

Mr Sisak Jamonaran, president of Thailand's Computer Society, agreed that the situation was getting out of hand.

"The problem with Ragnarok is that there is no time limit. A game can last over 10 hours," he told the BBC's East Asia Today programme.

"Players become obsessed and they lose interest in other activities," he said.

One young student, quoted by the Nation newspaper, said: "Ragnarok has become a drug and all of my friends are addicted to it. Nobody plays soccer with me now."

Mr Jamonaran said the problem with online gaming was more fundamental than straight addiction.

"What the kids really need is love from their parents. Some parents just do not have time for their kids, and that is why the kids go online," he said.

But others said the move was draconian, and that parents were able to regulate their children effectively.

"I allow my children to play the game for one or two hours after they finish their homework," said one mother, also quoted by the Nation newspaper.

"On weekends, we go to internet shops to play the game together," she said.

"We are a happy family. I wish critics of the game would try playing it first."

Country profile: Thailand
16 Apr 03  |  Country profiles
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