In recent years, China’s government has vociferously criticized video games, which it says have a deleterious effect on children. Last week, the Chinese government announced a new policy which will introduce strict controls on minors playing video games, through a real-name user identification system. Chinese citizens aged under 18 years old will be banned from playing online games between 10pm and 8am and will be restricted to 90 minutes per day outside these hours during weekdays, and three hours on weekends and during holidays. Spending limits will also be introduced to restrict the amount of money minors are able to spend on online games.
According to reporting by the BBC, in addition to announcing a video game curfew on Nov. 5, the Chinese authorities also introduced restrictions on spending. Spending by Chinese gamers aged between eight and 16 years old will be capped at 200 yuan (approx. NT$880) per month, while 16-18-year-olds will be limited to 400 yuan (approx. NT$1,700).
Underage gamers will be required to register using their real names and provide additional information to verify their identity, including their mobile phone number and WeChat ID. Although all gamers must already provide valid identification credentials to register an online gaming account, in reality a large number of underage gamers use their parents’ information to register. This has made it difficult for the authorities to implement effective controls. Under the new system, the Chinese government will work with law enforcement agencies to build a “unified identification system” that can be used by all gaming platforms
Last year the WHO for the first time listed gaming addiction as a mental illness. Having previously strongly criticized video game companies for products that have a negative effect on children, last year the Chinese government established a gaming regulator, delivering a blow to the lucrative gaming industry.
China is currently the second-largest market for video games in the world. The increased regulations imposed on the industry by China’s government have already started to bite. This year the US is forecast to overtake China as the world’s largest revenue-generating market for video games.
(Translated by Edward Jones, Taipei Times)
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