Published: Thu, November 07, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

China imposes curfew on online gaming for minors

China imposes curfew on online gaming for minors

Earlier in 2019, China revoked a publisher's license after the horror game Devotion, from the Taiwan-based studio Red Candle Games, was found to contain hidden imagery critical of President Xi Xinping. The country is imposing a new curfew on online gaming for minors. Apparently, gamers will need to enter their real names and Chinese identification numbers (essentially their social security number) whenever they log into a game.

In an effort to further curb the issue of video game addiction and excessive gaming by minors, China has rolled out new anti-addiction guidelines on top of the previous rules it had released to the public.

What's more: these young gamers are also being told how much they're allowed to spend on microtransactions. Those purchases are now capped at $28 to $57 a month, depending on age. A state spokesperson says that everyone, regardless of age, is prohibited from playing games that depict "sexual explicitness, goriness, violence and gambling".

Chinese officials will also require everyone to register accounts for online games using their real name and phone number, which will help government entities to regulate playing time.

"These problems affect the physical and mental health of minors, as well as their normal learning and living", the National Press and Publication Administration said in a statement that was published by Xinhua, the official news agency.

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It is not clear how offline single-player games factor into the new guidelines.

How harmful are video games?

Under this categorization, simply playing video games isn't taken seriously but if a person plays the game without social contact for 12 months at a stretch, World Health Organization defined such gaming disorder as a "pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior" in which people lose control of their gaming behavior, give priority to gaming over other interests and activities, and continue gaming despite negative consequences, such as impairments in their family relationships, social lives, work duties or other areas. Rather, a video game addict is described as someone with an inability to stop playing even though it interferes with other important areas of life.

But Ahmad added that China is now one of the most heavily regulated video game markets in the world, and that technology companies in the country and overseas would be forced to more closely follow the government's policy announcements. Paolo Zialcita is an intern on NPR's Newsdesk.

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