China bans video games after 10pm for minors, restricts gaming time to 90 min for weekdays

Chinese state-run media has likened some games to 'poison'.

Jason Fan| November 08, 04:33 PM

Aspiring pro-gamers in China will now face a stumbling block after a slew of new rules were announced, intended to curb video game addiction.

BBC reported that gamers under the age of 18 will now face restrictions on when they can play, how long they can play, and how much they can spend on games, according to official government guidelines that were released on Nov. 5.

No online games for minors after 10:00pm

Under the new rules, gamers under the age of 18 will be banned from playing online games between 10:00pm and 8:00am.

On weekdays, minors are only allowed to play for 90 minutes. They may play for up to three hours per day on weekends and public holidays.

The new guidelines also restrict the amount of money that minors can spend on online video games, on items such as virtual weapons, clothes and pets.

Those aged between eight and 16 years old can top up 200 yuan (around S$39) per month to their online gaming accounts, while the maximum amount for those between the age of 16 and 18 would be 400 yuan (around S$78).

How it will be enforced

CNN reported that the official government guidelines will be applied to all online gaming platforms in China, most notably Tencent, the world's biggest gaming company.

According to The New York Times, minors would be required to use real names and identification numbers when they log into gaming platforms.

The local authorities will work with the police to set up a real-name registration system, to enable gaming companies to check the identity of their users against the national database.

However, young gamers are likely to find ways to bypass these regulations, such as using a parent's phone and identification number.

China cracking down on video game addiction

These new rules are China's latest attempt to crack down video game addiction among young people, which is believed to be the reason behind an increase in nearsightedness and poor academic performance.

According to NYT, state-run media has likened some games to "poison", and stated that video game addiction "affects the physical and mental health of minors, as well as their normal learning and living."

BBC reported that China is currently the second-largest gaming market in the world, second only to the U.S.

China's video game industry was the largest in the world until 2019, where it lost ground due to the increasing regulations imposed by the government to reduce its growth.

In 2018, the government announced the establishment of a gaming regulator, to limit the number of new online games, restrict playing time and impose an age-restriction system.

In the same year, China also enacted a nine-month halt on approvals for new video games, which dealt a significant blow to the local video game industry.

Top image from China Plus.