South Korea criminalizes ‘boosting’ with new law

By Owen S. Good

The finals of the 2018 The League of Legends World Championship at South Korea’s Incheon Munhak Stadium.
Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Boosting — basically one person playing on another’s account to rank them up — is going to be a criminal offense in South Korea with some stiff punishments awaiting the booster.

The new measure comes courtesy of an amendment to the country’s Game Industry Promotion Act, reports The Daily Dot. That law was passed in June 2017. This new measure was developed in collaboration with the video games industry in the country and will punish boosters with a fine of up to 20 million won, which is roughly $18,000. They also get a two-year suspended prison sentence.

As you probably understand, South Korea is a hotbed of esports competition and enthusiasm, and so boosting is a problem of commensurate importance over there. Evidently, sanctions game companies could levy through their usual terms of use weren’t enough to deter or curb boosting behavior. Surrogate players is something of an industry, notes Esports TV & News Network. Surrogates were even registering as businesses and advertising and selling their services as if they were legitimate.

The act goes into effect in six months, and defines a “proxy game” as “an act that interferes with the normal operation of the game by arranging or providing the service to acquire the score or performance of the game in a way that is not approved by the game-related business operated.”

If that sounds like expansive language, well, yeah it is. But welcome to lawmaking, where industries of considerable visibilty and importance co-write legislation all the time. U.S. based companies will benefit from the law, of course, as League of Legends, StarCraft, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are all popular in the country’s robust gaming scene. Riot Games gave a mostly neutral statement — “this law will help us catch them even better once it’s passed” — to ESTNN.