In an effort to curb video game addiction, the Chinese government has announced new rules aimed at reducing the amount of time young people can play video games, including an imposed curfew that bans minors from playing online games between 10 PM and 8 AM.
Not only this, but those under the age of 18 will be restricted to 90 minutes of online gaming during week days, and three hours per day on weekends and public holidays. The government is also introducing spending limits on online accounts depending on the player’s age, with 16 to 18-year olds able to spend up to 400 yuan ($57) per month, whereas those aged between eight and 16 can only put 200 yuan ($29) into their accounts.
The official government guidelines will be applied to all online gaming platforms operating in China, including the world’s biggest gaming company, Tencent, which wholly or partially owns the likes of Riot Games, Epic Games, and Activision Blizzard.
The government is also working with police to set up a real-name registration system, enabling gaming companies to check the identity of their users against the national database. If companies fail to supervise their players and don’t meet the new requirements, they will be given a time limit to make changes and comply, or face potentially having their licences revoked.
Speaking to the state-run Xinhua News Agency, a representative from China’s General Administration of Press and Publication said that the new rules are aimed at creating a “clear internet space” and “protecting the physical and mental health of minors.” Although the administration acknowledges that online games are capable of “enriching the people’s spiritual and cultural life,” they can also cause issues that “affect the physical and mental health and normal learning and life of minors.”
China is the world’s largest gaming market, with the country’s total gaming revenue reaching $38 billion in 2018. This is also far from the first time the government has inserted measures to clamp down on its citizen’s gaming habits. In August 2018, Beijing announced plans to limit the number of new online games released, claiming that video games were making children shortsighted. State-run media has also attacked Tencent’s popular mobile game Honor of Kings, blaiming it for allegedly causing addiction in young people.
Video game addiction, officially known as Internet Gaming Disorder, was added to the World Health Organizations’s International Classification of Diseases for the first time in June last year.