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China bans gaming for under 18’s during weekdays

Young gamers under the age of 18 have been banned from playing video games entirely between Mondays and Thursdays, as new rules issued on Monday 30 August were introduced in a bid to pull a plug on a growing addiction among underage users.

Minors will only be permitted to play for one hour a day on Fridays, weekends, and public holidays with a strict curfew between 8 and 9 pm, according to the announcement by the National Press and Public Administration.

Data suggests that 62.5% of China’s underage Internet users are regular video game players with 13.2% of them playing games on mobile devices for more than two hours on weekdays, leading to poor physical health and affecting academic performance.

Gaming companies are also required to ensure they have put real-name verification systems in place in order to implement the rules.

This has been the second shock of the year in China’s gaming industry. Earlier in August, the tech giant Tencent, also the world’s biggest video game developer saw a loss of more than 380 billion RMB ($58.8 billion), or over 10 percent of its market value following the state media attack in an article, where its flagship video game Honor of Kings was singled out and online games were described as “spiritual opium”.

Although the article had been taken down shortly after the initial publication and reappeared online with a softer tone, the regulatory crackdown on this industry shows no hints to be softened.

The new rule has soon sparked fierce public debate with more than 310 million views on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo. While some have welcomed the new regulations, others find it “overstrict”. Doubts are also raised around the enforcement of the new rules with some concerned that such rules may bring on account scalpers.

Some, on the other hand, see this stringent social intervention as a parenting failure.


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