With the pandemic still going on, a big chunk of people around the world would resort to online gaming as a means to destress. Playing online games would translate to using a computer or a phone for several hours, and China thinks that this might be detrimental for minors.
As a response, China recently imposed new rules on online gaming for minors. In an article by Reuters, the new rule China plans to impose on minors (under 18 years old) is that they can only play one hour a day–specifically from 8pm to 9 pm–on only Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and an hour at the same time window on holidays. The restriction applies to all games and to all devices including mobile phones.
This move is a major blow to the growing eSports industry, where it has China as one of its most lucrative markets. The government even classifies online gaming as “spiritual opium” and a hindrance to growing different sectors that include tech, education, and property.
According to the Chinese state media, about 62.5% of Chinese minors play online games, and 13.2% of mobile game users who are minors play mobile games for more than two hours a day on working days. While these new online gaming rules China is going to impose on minors may sound too restrictive, they claim that they are doing so to protect the physical and mental health of children.
“Teenagers are the future of our motherland,” an unnamed spokesperson from the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) said. “Protecting the physical and mental health of minors is related to the people’s vital interests and relates to the cultivation of the younger generation in the era of national rejuvenation.”
This new ruling against online gaming also coincides with the government’s broader clampdown against Chinese tech giants like Tencent Games, Alibaba Holdings, NetEase, and more.
As a response, Tencent said that they will comply with the new regulations and that they have taken measures to pre-empt the regulators in recent months. NetEase, on the other hand, has yet to make a statement.