China limits kids playing online games to just three hours per week; One hour on Fridays and weekends

UPDATE: This article has been updated to reflect the ban that applies to online video games. Extra spaces between paragraphs have been added to make it easier to read.

The Chinese government has banned children from playing online video games during the week, with just an hour a day on Fridays and weekends.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the National Press and Publication Administration announced that the ban would affect children playing online video games Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, weekends and holidays, they can play between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Although no age was specified, the Wall Street Journal reports that previous video game regulations included those under 18.

For comparison, in November 2019, China introduced laws limiting how those under 18 could play video games online. This included playing them between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., in addition to a restriction of 90 minutes per day (or three hours per day on weekends and holidays). There were also spending limits for online games.

Even an adult may have a hard time, thanks to the “social credit” system. This policy gives benefits to “good citizens” (access to better schools for your children) and restrictions to “bad citizens” (publicly named and shamed, or banned from using public transport). Playing games for “too long” could be considered bad citizenship, compared to finding a wife or helping the local community.

The law was designed to address video game addiction (also known as gaming disorder), while distracting them from school, family responsibilities and causing other social ills. Chinese tech giant Tencent recently lost nearly $60 billion in market value; after China’s state-run media business daily described online gambling as “spiritual opium”.

How the law will be enforced was also not explained. The Wall Street Journal reports that Tencent previously automatically kicked players out of their games when they played too long, via China’s real-name registration law for internet access and facial recognition.

While China’s state-run Xinhua news agency hailed the move, the government aimed to “effectively protect the physical and mental health of minors”, this decision will surely have massive effects on the Chinese gaming industry and those who hope to market their games in China.

This may explain why Chinese companies such as Tencent have invested in foreign companies. They created American studio LightSpeed ​​LA to make PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S AAA games. They previously sought out industry veterans for blockbuster titles, including Konami developer Kenichiro Imaizumi and Scott Warner (Planescape: Torment, Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, Halo 4).

We’ve also seen several games with a more western appeal developed by Tencent’s TiMi studios; including Metal Slug Code: Jand Pokemon Unite. Contract disputes with Tencent led Amazon Games to cancel their The Lord of the Rings MMOs.

Tencent’s portfolio includes ownership of Sumo Digital’s parent Riot Games, 80% Grinding Gear Games, 40% Epic Games, 29% Funcom, 5% Activision Blizzard, 5% Ubisoft, 5% of Paradox Interactive, a “major investment” in PlatinumGames, a majority stake in Klei Entertainment, a major shareholder of Marvelous, a minority stake in Dontnod Entertainment, and others.

More recently, Chinese internet technology and video game company NetEase is reportedly looking to poach Sega Yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi.

Picture: Safari Wallpaper, Wikipedia

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