The South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism is currently preparing a law that will outlaw virtual item trades, and farming items for commercial use. This means that botters who rack up millions of gold and spam channels will become criminals. The law is aimed at putting a stop to botting, and automatic farming of items without a human at the keyboard.
The Ministry says that the main purpose of games is to be entertainment, and that they shouldn’t be used by players to make money through the game directly. They also stated that real money trading has its own problems. These problems include increase teenaged crime. The law is expected to enforce this law quite strictly, having a maximum punishment of 50 million won (About $40,000), and up to five years in prison.
It has also been said that item farming for commercial reasons is a major obstacle in creating a healthy game culture. Players who buy a massive amount of gold or high quality gear break the power and progress curve intended by designers, and cause severe balance issues in the game itself. According to calculations made by the ministry, as much as 60% of items traded on the market came from automated methods. These methods are also accused of causing online games to have a bad reputation.
Korea takes its gaming quite seriously. This legislation is definitely a good step in the right direction. I feel that criminalizing it is a little bit too far, but every MMO player can attest to the problems caused by the rotten bastards that spam channels and sell things they actually have no right to sell.