China’s next move in battling gaming addiction is to flat out restrict how much people under the age of 18 can play the game. According to a CNN report, the government is looking to impose a curfew on minors throughout the entire week, limiting when you can play and for how long.
Under these rules, providers of online gaming services will be altogether prohibited from allowing minors to play between 22:00 and 08:00. In addition, minors will be limited to 90 minutes of game time on weekdays and three hours on weekend days and public holidays.
The amount of money a minor can store in their account will also be limited: up to 200 CNY (~$30 USD) for 16 and younger, and up to 400 CNY (~$57) for 16-18 year-olds.
The “Six Main Measures of Anti-Addiction Guidelines for Minors” notice thus reads, in full:
- Real-name registration for online games. The “Guidelines” require strict real name registration, and all online game users need to use effective identity information to register their game accounts.
- Strictly control minors’ playing time in online games. It is stipulated that game operators should halt service for teenagers under 18 from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Minors should normally be limited to no more than 90 minutes of game time per school day, or three hours on weekends and public holidays.
- Standardize the provision of pay services to minors. It is stipulated that game companies shall not provide pay services for users under 8. For pay service provided by the same online game company, users between 8 and 16 can spend up to RMB 50 per in-game purchase, but cannot spend more than RMB 200 per month. Users from 16 to less than 18 can spend up to RMB 100 per in-game purchase, but cannot spend more than RMB 400 per month.
- Strengthen industry supervision.
- Explore and implement the age rating system.
- Positively encourage parents, schools and other social forces to fulfill the responsibility of minors’ guardianship and protection, and help minors to establish correct consumption concepts in online games and help them develop healthy habits.
According to a spokesman of the administration, this is done so that the government can protect the “physical and mental health of minors”.
“[This notice] has emphasized on the responsibility of the corporations, and has executed the government’s duty to supervise the problem,” the spokesman said.
To track it, China is looking to implement a real name registration for online games, making players’ age verifiable.
China has long tried to control the gaming market, which is also one of the largest ones in the world. Early measures that were taken included banning games that were considered violent (such as PUBG and Fortnite) and forcing others to make corrective changes (such as Overwatch) if they are to remain on the market. The government also has full control on what and how many games are allowed to be published, both from domestic and foreign developers, and exact corrective actions against otherwise free gaming platforms such as Steam.
The notice is certainly to make a dent in otherwise massive corporations’ income, although it might not be a big one. According to other reports, those in the minors category are less than 20 percent of the gaming market in China, and even fewer of those spend money on games. This means that in a country where parents don’t have the time or ability to supervise their kids, a law like this can be beneficial to both the developing minds of China, while not directly harming the main game businesses in the country.