A representative from the South Korean National Assembly’s Gender Equality and Family Committee has begun work on a bill that could make sexual harassment in online video games, like Overwatch, punishable by law, according to a Seoul Newspaper story posted on Naver.
In Overwatch, players chat through text and voice systems to coordinate play with teammates. But often, players turn toxic—and women are often subject to sexual harassment by fellow players, but all genders do experience harmful messaging from others. Developer Blizzard Entertainment moderates its chat system with the help of Overwatch players who report others for bad behavior. (The Overwatch team has also begun using artificial intelligence to spot toxic players.)
Tracking sexual harassers may be challenging in many countries, but in South Korea, Overwatch players have a social security number attached to their respective accounts—making it easy to recognize players. Though it’s not discussed in the article, it feels likely this would be used to track down players who engage in sexual harassment in-game.
Suggested punishments for sexual harassment online weren’t detailed by the paper.
South Korea has an infrastructure for punishing cyber-crimes. In June, an Overwatch hack creator was handed a suspended prison sentence for violating the Game Industry Promotion Law and Information and Communication Technology Protection Law. The 28-year-old man could face jail time if he violates parole during a two-year probation. Two other Overwatch hackers were sentenced to probation and fines earlier in the year. Thirteen hackers and match-fixers were arrested in January by South Korean police.