China against video games: you can only play three hours a week
China continues its war against online video games and has just passed a law that allows minors to play only three hours a week, no more than one hour a day and only on weekends. According to official statements, this law would serve to “effectively prevent the addiction of minors to online games”, a very widespread problem in China and that the state has been trying to fight for many years now.
China and video games: you can only play three hours a week
Despite the numerous initiatives aimed at making this law effective, it must be said that controlling the hours spent by minors on video games is not as simple as it seems. To make it easier to implement the new legislation, China intervened directly on national software houses, who will have to actively work to limit the access of minors to their servers. This control should be done through the use of a real name and facial recognition.
Simultaneously with these measures, the press and administrations were required to strengthen “the supervision and inspection of the implementation of relevant measures to prevent minors from engaging in online games and to deal with video game companies that have not strictly implemented them in compliance with laws and regulations “. Words that seem to refer to more than a limit a real ban.
These rules, according to the official version, should favor a healthy physical and mental growth of minors, but it is difficult not to read a under text of prohibition more or less evident. On the other hand, China is not new to this kind of operation.
Until now, Chinese users under the age of 18 were allowed to play online on weekdays for up to 90 minutes, with no connection after 10pm and before 8am.. Drastic and apparently quite counterproductive measuresgiven the great influence of several Chinese software houses in the mobile video game market.
This new set of restrictions doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. The antagonism towards video games of the Chinese Party is there for all to see and, to be fair, that many Chinese young people have a video game addiction problem is certainly true. Nevertheless, the drastic measures introduced from above only exacerbate the situation.
A counterproductive strategy?
Within this panorama, it does not help that China is the first market in the world for mobile video games, with a revenue of 36 billion dollars in 2020 and more than 740 million gamers across the country. With such a high concentration of more or less passionate gamers it is difficult to keep the phenomenon at bay as the government would like and it is no coincidence that various tricks have already been found.
It therefore sounds very strange that on the upper floors they are trying to obstruct a market so vehemently that, on balance, it makes a lot of the fortune of the country. In this regard, it is impossible not to quote the words of the newspaper affiliated with the official news agency Xinhua, who had defined them as “opium of the spirit”. The companies for their part will be subjected to 10% and 20% taxesas well as having an obligation to monitor users via facial recognition.
It is difficult to imagine that this strategy of increasingly stringent bans will prove effective in the long term. The video game market is too important for the country to be sidelined and, despite the sanctions, Tencent and NetEase remain the two leading companies in the mobile sector. For the moment these giants have taken an accommodating position, also because the public of minors constitutes a small part of their income, but if the limitations were to become more stringent it is possible that the situation could become more severe.
On the other hand, China appears to be very concerned about the expansion of the country’s technology sector, which could gain a great deal of power for companies by creating space and means that could lead to the generation of dissent towards the Communist Party. Which puts the government’s alleged concern about players’ mental health in a completely different light.