November 6, 20195:00 PM ET
Chinese officials are cracking down on youth online gaming, which they say negatively affects the health and learning of minors. Official guidelines released Tuesday outline a new curfew and time restrictions for gamers under 18.
Six measures were outlined in the guidelines, aimed at preventing minors “from indulging in online games.” Among them is a ban on online video games for minors between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. Minors will also be restricted to 90 minutes of game time everyday except national holidays, when they are allowed a maximum of three hours.
Online microtransactions, which many view as lucrative and gouging, are also targeted. These purchases are capped monthly at $28 or $57, depending on a minor’s age.
It is not clear how offline single-player games factor into the new guidelines.
The regulations focus on furthering President Xi Jinping’s continued anti-video game efforts. In 2018, Jinping called for officials to take action on the large amount of nearsighted children. In addition to heavy schoolwork and mobile phones, Jinping blamed video game addiction for the vast number of myopic children.
Video game addiction was officially recognized as a mental health condition by the World Health Organization in 2018. The criteria doesn’t include a certain amount of hours played. Rather, a video game addict is described as someone with an inability to stop playing even though it interferes with other important areas of life.
Market research firm Niko Partners reported that digital game revenue in China will reach $33 billion in 2019, making the East Asian country one of the world’s largest video game markets.
China’s market power was perhaps underscored when Blizzard Entertainment suspended an esports player in October after he voiced support for the Hong Kong liberation protests, prompting many to accuse the American company of pandering to Chinese interests.