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SEOUL--South Korea's government is close to adopting a "Cinderella" law to ban youngsters from playing online games past midnight amid growing concerns about Internet addiction, officials said Thursday.
A bill to be submitted to parliament as early as this month will require South Korean online game companies to cut off services at midnight for users registered as younger than 16, the culture and family ministries said.
"The thing about online games is, once you are in it, it is extremely hard to get out of it, especially if you are a young kid," Jo Rin, a ministry official in charge of the law, told AFP.
"A lot of kids play games all night long and have trouble studying at school and going about their normal lives during daytime. We believe the law is necessary to ensure their health and a right to sleep."
The online services would resume at six the following morning, he said, adding there would be a year-long waiting period until the law takes effect so that companies can prepare for it.
The government is also considering requiring companies to limit young users' access to online games to a maximum number of hours a week or a day if parents request this, said Jo.
South Korea is one of the world's most wired societies, but there have been sporadic reports of deaths related to Internet game addiction.
Last month a 15-year-old South Korean boy committed suicide after killing his mother for scolding him over playing computer games too much.
In February a 32-year-old man died after reportedly playing for five days with few breaks.
A month later police arrested a couple accused of leaving their baby daughter to starve to death while they raised a "virtual" child on the Internet. The baby had long been malnourished, an autopsy showed.
The government, which estimates that South Korea has about two million web addicts, is already launching one campaign to combat the affliction.
From next year, it will offer free software to people at risk, to limit the time they spend on the web.
SAN FRANCISCO--Mickey Mouse makes his US debut as a videogame hero Tuesday in "Wasteland," featuring an alternate world that includes Walt Disney Company's long forgotten characters and attractions
"Disney Epic Mickey" for Wii consoles puts players into the large yellow shoes of the famous cartoon mouse and challenges them to use wits, paint, and paint thinner to defeat enemies, save old friends and restore a ruined land.
Mickey has the power to erase characters or restore them to glory, with his actions influencing the course of the game, according to Warren Spector of Junction Point Studio, which crafted the software.
"Mickey hasn't been the videogame hero he was meant to be," Spector said of the character introduced in 1928 while providing a glimpse of the title at a conference in Los Angeles earlier this year. "That's about to change."
Mickey's foes in the game include "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit," a pioneering Disney cartoon figure turned bitter because the mouse soared to stardom while he sank into obscurity.
The game will mark the first time Oswald has appeared in a new Disney story since 1928.
Disney Interactive Studios is introducing Mickey's videogame as Nintendo works to keep players enchanted with the Wii in the face of motion-sensing controls being added to rival consoles built by Microsoft and Sony.
Wii launched in 2006 with innovative motion-sensing controls and became a must-have videogame console credited with expanding the market far beyond "hardcore gamers" devoted to shooter titles.
Microsoft just hit the market with hot-selling Kinect hardware that lets people control Xbox 360 games with body gestures alone. Sony unleashed Move hardware which allows motion-control of games on PlayStation 3 consoles.
Nintendo reported that Wii consoles and DS handheld gaming gadgets were hot sellers in the United States during the prime holiday shopping week marked by "Black Friday," the day after the Thanksgiving in this country.
The Japanese videogame titan estimated that it sold 600,000 Wii consoles and 900,000 devices from its DS line of handheld game gadgets between November 21 and 27.
"US shoppers bought about 9,000 Nintendo hardware systems nonstop for every hour of every day during the week of Black Friday," said Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime.
Fils-Aime maintained that the strong start to the traditional shopping season meant that Wii consoles haven't lost their magic in the market.
Nintendo enticed shoppers with deals on bundles of videogame hardware and software.
Third-party game makers such as Disney, Ubisoft, and Activision fueled the momentum with new titles for play on Nintendo systems, according to Fils-Aime.