China Restricts Online Gaming for Under-18 To 3 Hours Per Week to Limit Addiction

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China on Monday introduced new rules that limit the number of time under-18s can spend on video games to a mere three hours a week, a move it said was necessary to combat the growing gaming addiction.

China has recently restricted young gamers from playing video games, including online games, to a mere three hours a week, a move that it believes will reduce gaming addiction drastically.

As per a report by Statista, it has been reported that the worldwide PC gaming market is a 37 billion US dollar industry.

In contrast, the mobile gaming market alone generated way over 77 billion USD in 2020. So, it’s not incorrect to say that teenagers’ interest in gaming is already at an all-time high.

However, these latest rules by the Chinese government come as a significant setback or roadblock to gamers and the gaming industry in China and will inevitably hinder their economic growth.

Gaming In communist China

As per the state media, over 62.5% of minors (under-18) in China play online games, whereas 13.2% of children play mobile games for over two hours on weekdays.

In 2020 itself, the gaming revenues from China increased by more than 20% to somewhere around 43 billion USD, where Tencent and NetEase remain the most prominent and influential online gaming companies.

Seeing so much interest in online gaming that in 2019 the Beijing government announced that it plans to become a global capital of online games by 2035.

While gaming studios like Tencent have already enforced some restrictions on players of popular games like Honour of Kings, it seems to have done little to nothing to calm the nerves of the state.

It remains to be seen how this latest rule affects the gaming community in communist China and whether this newest crackdown will reverse years of exponential growth for the international gaming industry.

Why is China Concerned About Gaming Addiction?

Authorities in China, the world’s largest video games market, have worried for years about addiction to gaming and the internet among young people, setting up clinics that combine mental therapy and military drills for those with so-called “gaming disorders”.

About 62.5% of Chinese minors usually play games online, and 13.2% of underage mobile game users play online mobile games for more than two hours a day on weekdays, as per state media.

Chinese regulators have also targeted the private tutoring industry and what they see as celebrity worship in recent weeks, citing the need to ensure the wellbeing of children.

What are the New Curbs, and How Will China Enforce Them?

The new restrictions forbid children under 18 to play online games from Monday through Thursday, effective Sept. 1 and will only be allowed to play for one hour, between 8 and 9 p.m., on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

Online gaming companies need to ensure that they install natural name verification systems in place.

All titles would eventually need to be connected to an anti-addiction system that the NPPA is currently setting up.

NPPA told state news agency Xinhua that it would increase the frequency and intensity of inspections of online gaming companies to ensure time limits were put in place.

The regulator will also step up measures to punish gaming firms that violate these rules and has increased penalties that will be given out after inspections, noting that more than 10,000 gaming titles were reviewed last year.

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