Implemented on Wednesday 1st September, Chinese youth now face restrictions that only allow them to play their favourite videos for 1 hour a day on Fridays, weekends, and bank holidays. With the weekly maximum halting at 3 hours. Cora delves into the reasoning behind it and the reactions this legislation has caused.
Many studies have relayed the negative impacts of excessive gaming and emphasised the need to monitor the amount of time spent playing video games. The effects of constant gaming have stoked fear into the hearts of many gamers’ loved ones when studies like Anderson et al (2014) and Müller and Wölfling (2017) imply the very medium can cause violent behaviour, obesity, and addiction. So when faced with the ever-polarising studies about video games, China has become a fear-filled relative and implemented a policy that limits gameplay to 3 hours per week for under 18s.
Repercussions have already occurred as a result of the new limits
In a bid to tackle growing concerns about gaming addiction and to “protect the physical and mental health of minors”, China’s National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) announced to the official Xinhua news agency that under 18s will be restricted to only playing video games between 8 pm and 9 pm three days a week – a reduction from the previous 3 hours daily restriction. To enforce this, online gaming companies are expected to continue using real-name registration systems and login requirements. However, no punishments will be enforced on individual gamers.
Repercussions have already occurred as a result of the new limits. Leading Chinese game producers such as Tencent and NetEase have witnessed a drop in their shares after the announcement – dropping between 3.5 and 3.7 per cent each, according to the Financial Times. Considering around 110m minors are engaging with video games in China, it is no shock that such companies are being impacted by the sudden loss of a notable chunk of customers. Yet, it was Tencent that initially instigated the limitations on their young customers.
In 2017, Tencent limited the playing time of minors on their most popular game, Honor of Kings. This was then followed by the Chinese Government two years later as they enforced a policy limiting minors to 1.5 hours of playing time on weekdays and 3 on weekends. This same policy also saw under 18s limited on how much they could spend on virtual and in-game items.
“Sexual consent at 14, at 16 you can go out to work, but you have to be 18 to play games. This is really a joke”
The new rules have been heavily criticised by Chinese youth on social media, with many young people being strongly against it. On China’s version of Twitter, Weibo, one person, according to Reuters, commented: “Sexual consent at 14, at 16 you can go out to work, but you have to be 18 to play games. This is really a joke.”
Though it is not just youth that the new regulations have distressed. China’s Government has intervened many times before in the world’s largest online gaming industry that they home, such as when China suspended approval of new titles for 9 months in 2018. Though the new policy is causing concerns about whether the industry will be able to sustain itself through ever-changing restrictions, companies consider it as “not the worst thing that could have happened.”
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