The Chinese government wants to curb excessive online gaming among minors by relying on strict regulations. That is why the state media agency has now published a “Communication on preventing the enjoyment of online games by minors”. In the future, there will be clear rules about who can play on the Internet, when and for how long.
“Bad at school and short-sighted”
Young gamers in China may face tough times. This is evidenced by a recent publication by the Chinese government press and publication agency. In a new regulation, the administrative authority explicitly addresses the issue of online gaming.
The official approach: excessive online play spoil the youth. Poor school performance is not infrequently due to addiction within the framework of eSports:
These problems affect the physical and mental health of minors as well as their normal learning and life.
In the past year, President Xi Jinping had also made computer games responsible for an increase in myopia among Chinese people.
A maximum of 90 minutes a day
The new rule package includes the introduction of a gaming curfew for young people. For example, platforms will in future be prohibited from making their offers accessible to minors between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.
Asian gamers in front of a computer
It is not only the game that is prevented at night, because from now on children and adolescents are allowed to spend a maximum of 90 minutes on the internet on weekdays. Up to three hours a day are allowed on weekends and school holidays.
Furthermore, the new regulations set upper limits for the spending of young people on paid offers. Graduated by age, minors are now allowed to invest a maximum of 200 to 400 yuan (up to 57 euros) per month in in-game purchases. Children under the age of eight are completely excluded from the transactions.
The Chinese leadership also explicitly points out that “harmful game content” such as gambling, pornography and violence should not be directed at minors.
Ministry of Security on board
In order to be able to meet the new requirements, the providers of the games must ensure in future that users can only be active on their portals by providing their real name and an official identification number.
The Chinese administration is said to work with the Ministry of Public Security to improve general identification processes. This serves to keep a better eye on the gaming behavior of the minors.
Suppliers, the statement says, that violate the new guidelines, should be asked to change or punished. The sanctions could lead to the withdrawal of the operating license.
The ordinance also urges parents and schools to discharge their duties regarding the protection and upbringing of minors.
Measures catalog no surprise
The government’s catalog of measures should come as no surprise to the population and the gaming industry. After all, the Chinese government’s rigid approach to the allegedly harmful effects of computer games has long been known.
According to analysts, the new measures should therefore not have a negative impact on the business of the industry. For example, the tech giants Tencent and Netease have already integrated limits for minors on their platforms.
Last year, China set up an ethics committee to review game offerings for compliance with moral and social standards. Even quiet references to topics such as prostitution, gambling and violence can lead to games being excluded from the lucrative Chinese market.
For this reason, various providers now rely on defused versions of their games specially developed for the Asian market that meet the aesthetic and content requirements of the regulatory authorities.
Protection or control?
Critics are concerned about the current move to further regulate online gaming among Chinese. In their eyes, the measures that officially served to protect minors were primarily suitable for promoting surveillance of the population.
The Chinese leadership did not like the free space and networking opportunities that online games offer, among other things, through their chat functions. For this reason, efforts are made to ensure that the general conditions are adhered to.
In fact, the new measures only affect youthful gaming behavior on the Internet. The regulations do not apply offline. Apart from the political and social dimensions of the question, it remains open to what extent a reasonable level of gaming can even be prescribed by the state, or whether it is not up to the individual and his social environment to find a healthy way of playing the game.