It is no secret that the People’s Republic of China is one of the largest video game markets of all time, due, of course, to the huge population and the widespread influence of online games among the younger generations. However, the government appears to be making the biggest negative change in gaming’s history
Video game addiction is a real illness that has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), but that is no excuse for this unfair law against local Chinese players. According to the official announcement, the new law on online video games imposes a curfew on games between 10 pm and 8 am for those under the age of 18.
Not only that, but it has been announced that minors will be able to only play 90 minutes on weekdays, with three hours on weekends and holidays, a time that seems very short and unwarranted despite perhaps good intent behind it, which seeks to minimize waste of school time and treating addiction.
That is not all, according to the new law, players can only pay a certain amount on video games, not exceeding $57 per month for the ages of 16-18 years, while younger players face a lower limit allowing them to spend only $ 29 per month.
To ensure that these laws are fully implemented, several stricter rules will be enforced to deal with online video games, including using the real name and attaching the ID number when registering in a game. Another rule is about applying new age ratings for games and training parents and teachers to deal with them.
These rules will not only be enforced by government agencies, but gaming companies will also have to participate in monitoring players under the risk of losing their licenses to operate within the Asian country. According to representative of the Chinese State Press, the government is not against video games per se as it’s offering methods to “enrich the lives of individuals spiritually and culturally”, but claims that the problems they cause “affect the physical and mental health and learning ability of minors.”
Of course, with the Chinese government under fire for its handling of Hong Kong protesters and causing scandals in the gaming community, international critics were quick to attack new laws that affect people’s freedom to spend their time as they want without the need for government intervention in their own lives. Opinions from video game communities were divided whether it’s a right or wrong decision by China.
This is not the first time that we have seen government interference by China in people’s gaming habits. It has previously pressured developers of PUBG Mobile to introduce a less violent game as well as a reason for introducing the idea of time limit on smartphone games. Honor of Kings was also a victim of government decisions, pressing it to use a real-name registration system to monitor its users’ gaming habits.
Fortunately, similar decisions have not yet been seen in any other Asian countries, with a similar project being proposed in South Korea in 2017, but it has been reversed to keep the task of monitoring children their parents’ responsibility, which will remain the best way to deal with video game addiction. Spreading family awareness without imposing unfair limits on the freedom of the individual.