China implements strict online video game curfew for minors

Daniel Fowler
November 7, 2019

In 2018, the government announced the establishment of a gaming regulator - in response to concerns about near-sightedness in children - to limit the number of new online games, restrict paying time and develop an age-restriction system.

The heavy-handed Chinese government may be focused on making covert moves towards reclaiming Hong Kong from the scourge of democracy, but between those brutal displays of power and telling the world that everyone had a fantastic time in Tiananmen Square between April and June 1989, China is also tackling video game addiction. That is, anyone under the age of 18 years, which intends to limit gaming time with a cutoff between 10pm and 8am, and access to online games for said minors during the week will only be 90-minutes per day, and just three hours each day of the weekend.

The regulations will mean those under 18 can not play games online between 10 pm and 8 am, and for only ninety minutes at a time during the daytime.

Gamers eight to 16 years old can spend up to 200 yuan (£22, $29) per month, while those between 16 and 18 years can spend up to 400 yuan on their gaming accounts. According to industry experts, the real-name and age rating system should have a huge impact on monitoring and controlling underage players.

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The penalties can be quite serious, even fatal to business in a worst-case scenario. The rules state that anyone under the age of 18 will be banned from playing online games from 10 PM to 8 AM. But still, the actions taken against Red Candle and Devotion's publisher Indievent do serve as a demonstration of how much power the Chinese government wields when it comes to regulating the flow of entertainment content inside the country. Reportedly, China's new curfew will be placed in effect on all online gaming platforms which operate within the country. They would also be working with police to implement a real-name registration system, enabling gaming companies to find out the identity of their users to put into a database.

No playing video games after 10 p.m.

While it's hard to argue with any effort aimed at addressing a public health issue, some believe that the new rules won't actually accomplish much in a big picture sense.

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.

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