China’s Ban on Video Games

Andrew Gu ‘23

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The Chinese administration has put a regulation in place to limit youth exposure to video games. The regulation had 6 main points aimed at preventing minors from indulging and getting addicted to games. These measures specifically include curfews, spending money on the games, and the implementation of a real-name registration system.

 

The General Administration of Press and Publication, the agency responsible for regulating news, print and internet publications in China, released regulations trying to curb youth addiction to video games. Specifically, users under the age of 18 are only able to play from 8 am to 10 pm, they’re only allowed to play 90 minutes on weekdays, they can only play 3 hours on weekends and holidays, and are permitted to only spend $57 a month on games [1]. Chinese officials believe that an increasing amount of time spent on playing video games is creating nearsightedness and lowered academic performance. 

 

The Chinese government backs its policies of limiting video game use by stating that, “the new rules were aimed at creating a clear internet space and protecting the physical and mental health of minors.” [2] The Chinese administration is working with the police to create a real-name registration system and is enabling companies to identify users on the national database to strictly enforce their new regulations. Video game companies have been accused of specifically targeting the youth and making the game as addictive as possible. Epic Games was recently accused of hiring psychologists to make Fortnite as addictive as possible. Legal accusations claim that Epic Games, “knowingly put on the market a very, very addictive game which was also geared toward youth.” 

 

The increase of addictive games put on the global market has led to the addition of Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) to the World Health Organization’s international list of diseases. This epidemic is defined as, “a pattern of gaming behavior characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.” [3] This increase in addictive games will increase the amount of youth affected by video game addiction. Thus, leading China to take actions to prevent the bad effects of this epidemic. China’s steps are drastic and strict, but they are in goodwill, trying to make their population the most advanced and sophisticated as possible.

 

It is hard to tell whether these reforms that China has instituted will have a positive or negative effect on Chinese youth, and only time will tell. Drastic reforms like these in the video game industry have not been seen before. As China is known to enforce rules on their population very strictly, this regulation will also be enforced with the same intensity. Now that China has made a move to limit adolescent video game addiction, the rest of the world population waits to see if other countries will join it in their efforts.

 

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/gaming/china-gaming-ban-video-game-addiction-a9188806.html

[2] http://www.xinhuanet.com/politics/2019-11/05/c_1125194322.htm

[3] https://www.who.int/features/qa/gaming-disorder/en/