On 12 November, the Chinese government announced the implementation of new online gaming restrictions. China has decided to ban children under the age of 18 from playing online games between the hours of 10pm and 8am, seven days a week.
Furthermore, players will be restricted from gaming longer than ninety-minutes during the school week. This will increase modestly to three hours on weekends and national holidays.
Also introduced are limitations on the amount eight-to-sixteen-year olds can spend on in-game purchases, including loot crates. This amounts to 200 yuan or £22 per month. Many nations in the western world are also contemplating bringing in restrictions on these forms of in-game spending, though most, including the US and UK, prefer the industry itself to set the limits and bring about change voluntarily.
The new laws are feared by some within the industry to be the first of many coming down the line from the Communist state’s new Gaming Regulator and his department the General Administration of Press and Publications or GAPP. This is the clearest sign yet that the Xi Jing-Ping administration has its sights set on gaining control over the multi-billion-dollar industry.
The world’s largest video game company, Tencent, has already introduced their own restrictions on game-time
In an attempt to get ahead of it, the world’s largest video game company, Tencent, has already introduced their own restrictions on game-time and even introduced a measure forcing users to confirm their identity during the online registration process.
According to Chinese state-run website Xinhua, these records will then be passed on to GAAP, who compare the information to that in the government’s national database. The move has raised concerns from human-rights groups as well of tech-freedom advocates.
China has long criticised the gaming industry for its perceived negative effect on the youth
For their part, the Chinese state claims that the new restrictions are necessary to combat childhood myopia or nearsightedness. In fact, it was the publication of (highly suspicious) ‘scientific data’ in a report last year that they say prompted the move on health and safety grounds. However, China has long criticised the gaming industry for its perceived negative effect on the youth, and many see the report’s timing as convenient to say the least.
Last modified: 2nd January 2020