Video game win sparks calls for substitute military service in Taiwan
Asia News Network
TAIPEI — Taiwan lawmakers suggested Premier Sean Chen amend military service policies for Taiwan's professional online gamers at a Legislative Yuan Sitting, yesterday. In the wake of a local team's surprise victory at the "League of Legends" Season 2 World Championship Finals series, legislators have begun urging government officials to put more emphasis on the gaming industry and professional gamers.
Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Chen Chi-mai asked the premier to amend military laws, allowing talented gamers to waive military service for substitute military service in the field of creative arts.
Chen responded by saying that the Cabinet will consider the proposal, and that adjustments could be made through the Ministry of Economic Affairs. "If digital content counts as part of the creative art industries, then the Ministry of Economic Affairs can mull over the possibilities of an alternative military service for online gamers," he said.
According to military law and regulations, it is mandatory for all healthy men to complete a term of military service of at least 10-12 months. Substitute services apply for those who have special skills or experience, such as social work, medicine, agriculture and the creative arts.
An all-voluntary military system, however, will be implemented by 2015, according to local reports.
Lawmaker Lu Shiow-yen proposed a mechanism that grants elite gamers admission to prestigious colleges for their outstanding performances. Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling said that his ministry will take the proposal into consideration and will come up with a draft of the logistics within three months.
According to Lu, compared to online gamers of other countries in this year's tournament, Taiwanese gamers received an extreme lack of support from the government. "Most of their support came from sponsors and video game companies," she said.
The legislator also stressed that video games should not be considered as merely an entertainment or leisure activity, but should be seen as a cultural activity. Chiang responded that if Taiwan perceives video games as part of an information technology industry, his ministry will consider granting college admission to elite gamers' for their outstanding performances.