The Vietnamese government see online gaming as the black magic of our time and blame the activity for everything from robberies and violent crimes among teens to bad grades and even the occasional murder. So the government got tough with teens and with Internet cafes that serve up the wickedness to them and the rest of the Vietnamese population.
A curfew was put in place to curb gameplay; now everyone in the country is banned from playing games after 10 PM and before 8 AM. While cafe owners are feeling the bite of lost revenues during those peak playing hours (some report a decline of about 25 percent in profits), teens seem mostly unaffected. This despite the fact that this new curfew has been in place since March 3.
In a country where Internet access is already spotty (not in many homes either) it seems that most Vietnamese citizens are rolling with the punches and adjusting their play times to fit into the window of availability.
One example cited by this Monsters & Critics report is 20-year-old engineering student Le Duc Trung, who spends about two hours per day playing an online fighting game called Gunbound. Trung said that he enjoys playing the game and spends lots of money on premium game items.
"I still play, but I go home at 10 pm," he said, the lights of the screen dancing off his face.
Another student, 25-year-old "Linh" didn't want to give too many details about himself, but did say that he still played online games despite the restrictions.
"Young people still play. It is really popular," he said.
Shop owners are not so casual about the new curfew, but are careful in how they protest it. Twenty-Two-year-old shop manager Nguyen Van Dung (who runs an unnamed cafe on Le Thanh Nghi street in Hanoi), said the police have forced him to close since last October.
"Of course we have lost a lot of money," he said. "Most of our customers play at night. We used to make 2 million dong but now we make about 1.5 million (72 dollars) a night."
The government says that they have done this for the health and well being of the public. Luu Vu Hai, a senior official at the Information Ministry in Hanoi told the German Press Agency dpa that online games keep children away from classes, and keeps them from earning money at jobs. The official added that the consequences of online gaming "could be deadly."
"They (online gamers) find ways to make money by stealing and robbing, even killing people to get money," Hai said.
Despite saying all that Hai admits there are limitations to what the police and the government can do to curtail late night gaming.
"The problem is that our force is thin while we have many online game shops, so we cannot check all of them."
Gamer Linh concurs:
"Many cafes are still open after 10 pm," he said. "They just shut the door. They don't stop taking customers." Perhaps that is the real reason so many young people in Hanoi are coping so well with this new curfew. Of course, it shouldn't be illegal for the entire population to play games after 10 PM..
Source: Monsters & Critics