A new rule being introduced by the The National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA), China’s online watchdog, is looking to curb what the government feels is a growing “gaming addiction among young people.”
The rule drastically cuts back on the time those under the age of 18 are allowed to play online video games over the weekend, with a one-hour limit to be imposed from Fri-Sun, and which also includes public holidays. That would mean that most of the year, kids would be allowed a maximum of three hours of online gaming per week.
As the South China Morning Post reports, the rule was first published in state media outlet Xinhua, where a government spokesperson said, “Many parents have said that the gaming addiction problem among teens and children has gravely affected their ability to learn and study as well as their physical and mental health, even causing a series of societal problems.”
Enforcement of this rule is going to be left to China’s gaming companies, like Tencent and NetEase, who are being asked to “strictly implement” registration and login systems that require the use of a player’s real name. Tencent, for its part, has already said that “it supports the new regulation and will implement the new requirements as soon as possible.”
This latest move comes after a succession of similar, less severe measures have obviously proven ineffective by whatever metric (or agenda) the Chinese government is trying to hit. In 2019, kids were banned from playing games after 10pm and had their microtransaction spending curtailed, while also limiting their playtime to 90 minutes a day and three hours on holidays.
The new rule comes into effect only weeks after government media in China labelled video games a “spiritual opium,” in a story that was published and then quickly deleted by The Economic Information Daily, but not before it caused an 11% slide in the stock price of gaming giant Tencent.
It also comes just days after the Korean government reversed its own limits on kid’s playing time, with the 2011 Youth Protection Revision Act—which stopped those under the age of 16 from playing after midnight—abolished.