China’s anti-addiction regulations for video games are making it difficult for game developers to operate — here’s why

China’s anti-addiction regulations for video games are making it difficult for game developers to operate — here’s why
  • China is looking to curb video gaming addiction among minors.
  • It has put up a restriction on the number of hours they can play every week.
  • Chinese media has called the gaming addiction as the “opium of the mind.”
The developers of Fortnite in China have shut down the servers of the game in the country. Fortress Night, as the game was called in China, was introduced in 2018 but never left the beta stage due to the heavy restrictions put down by the government on playing video games.

Although the developers did not give a reason behind the pull-out, it is being attributed to China’s new regulations for gaming. Let’s find out what this system allows and restricts.

What is China’s anti-addiction system?

In a bid to curb gaming addiction, the Chinese government has placed rules and restrictions that limit the time youngsters can spend playing online games every week. Before the restrictions were put in August this year, the government media described online gaming as “opium for the mind” and “electronic drugs”.
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According to Chinese news agency Xinhua, the video gaming service is only available to minors on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays along with public holidays between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm. Barring these hours, the gaming company cannot provide the services to minors.

Online gaming in China also requires gamers to use their real names and government-issued documentation for identification on the gaming sites. Gaming companies cannot provide services to anyone with a fake ID.

Gaming companies are using facial recognition technology and algorithms to ensure that the rules are followed and the children don’t use means to illegally game at other times by using their parent’s phone or using Fake IDs.

The rule became more stringent this year, as an earlier rule rolled out in 2019 entailed the young gamers to 1.5 hours of gaming on any day and three hours on public holidays.

Impact of restrictions on the gaming sector

This will impact the gaming companies as China is one of the largest gaming markets in the world. With Fortress Night shutting down, many other games may follow suit if the country does not do away with the restrictions. The regulations have also brought uncertainty in the market for investors.

The China Briefing report also talks about how it could impact China’s future plans to develop the e-sports sector, which has been classified as a professional sport.

China is also bringing regulations to censor games that involve virtual killings, gay romance and those that present distorted historical facts. In September this year, 213 companies have agreed to avoid any content that is discouraged by the Chinese authorities.

Why is China restricting gamers?

The Chinese government has cited the addiction to games among youngsters as the reason for putting these restrictions. It claims that the youngsters are “still in the stage of physical and mental development” and where their self-control is weak. It wants to improve the participation of minors in physical exercise, social practice and other recreational activities.

According to a Reuters report, 62.5 percent of minors in China play online video games, and 13.2 percent of underage mobile game users play for over two hours every day.

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