Online Video Games in China? They are banned, for young people under 18 years old, starting few months ago

Few months ago, the country’s state media published harsh criticism of the industry, calling the video games “intellectual opium”.

So, we understand that China portrays strict surveillance as something done for the good of its people – an antidote to “intellectual opium,” a term used by a state-run media outlet to criticize video games a few months ago. In an article announcing and justifying the government’s reasoning, the Chinese state media Xinhua, quoted by Reuters, quoted a spokesman as saying that “the protection of the physical and mental health of minors is in the vital interests of the people and concerns the cultivation of the new generation in the era of national revival “.

The new rules for internet video games in China

The new regulations prohibit, among other things, people under the age of 18 from playing video games between 10pm and 8am the next morning.

During the week, minors are only allowed to play 90 minutes a day, which on weekends and public holidays increases to three hours a day.

The new rules also limit the amount of money spent on online video games to 200 yuan ($29) a month for children ages 8 to 16, and 400 yuan ($57) to ages 16 to 18.

Minors will now be required to use their real names and ID numbers to log in and play.

The impact of the policy in China

If China is pursuing national revitalization, it has chosen a peculiar path to achieve it. The tough, new policy – which has both critics and advocates on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social networking service – is the latest step in a wider crackdown on the tech industry. The government’s attack in recent months has taken billions of dollars out of the valuations of former Chinese national champions such as Alibaba and Tencent. Surely, they do not yet feel refreshed. But as it is understood, the following question arises:

How much will the new decree hurt Tencent, China’s biggest gaming giant?

WeChat maker and Fortnite investor has already tried to allay investor concerns in its most recent quarterly earnings report. Players under the age of 16 account for only 2.6% of the company’s gross revenue in China, Tencent said, declining to disclose the exact amount. That amount is probably in the hundreds of millions of dollars – it is not even close to the total of more than $21 billion the company has earned in total revenue over those three months, but it is a significant amount nonetheless.

The ban on gambling in China, although seems extreme, is unprecedented. In 2019, the country reduced children under the age of 18 to 1.5 hours of video games daily or three hours on public holidays. Earlier this month, Tencent, in anticipation of stricter regulations, further reduced the maximum age limit for minors to one hour a day or two hours on public holidays, for some games such as Honor of Kings, a popular title in China that critics claim that it is addictive to the youth.

How will China people deal with the new rules?

In the past, Chinese hackers have created do-it-yourself consumer electronics that mimicked the products of well-known brands. The market reputation for replication led people to describe the imitations as Shanzai, or “mountain fortress” – a millennial term reminiscent of the days of revolutionary robbers who raided the outskirts of the empire. The term, once considered offensive, has since taken on a new life as a celebration of citizens’ ingenuity.

People who use fake IDs can circumvent face recognition requirements – which Tencent implemented this summer to comply with previous restrictions on minors – with the help of legitimate account holders offering their biometrics. Maybe that’s why the state media noted that parents and teachers will be the key to enforcing the new rules.

Another way children can circumvent the ban is to turn to offline toy alternatives. People can probably bypass the government’s so-called “addiction system” by playing games that do not require an Internet connection. We may see more offline digital game options for a player take off in the coming years.