Beijing is all set to curb the gaming hours for minors as the notice released by China’s National Press and Publication Administration has imposed limits on the time that children can spend on online gaming. Starting September 1, the video game companies are ordained to restrict gaming time to three hours a week—from 8 PM to 9 PM on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Defending the restrictions, the National Press and Publication Administration said the online gaming has an impact on both the physical and mental health of minors.
In order to ensure that minors abide by the rule, the game companies will have to use a real name-based registration system that Tencent started using in 2018 to restrict playtime on Honor of Kings, a widely popular online game.
However, at that time, the restrictions were not so rigorous as children up to the age of 12 could play one hour per day, and up to two hours a day for children in the age bracket between 13 to 18. The authorities were then concerned about exacerbating myopia among minors.
As per the system, the users have to go through an ID verification system while signing in, which means that a user can only have one account associated with his or her real name. It is also being alleged that the regulators will routinely examine if the companies are complying with the mandate.
Interestingly, the new rules issued by China came a month after a particularly scathing article published by state media, which described the online games as “spiritual opium”. Although the phrase was later removed, it served as a harbinger of what was about to follow.
It remains unclear as to console games and foreign games will also have to implement the new real name-based registration system and comply with China’s laws curbing the gaming hours of minors.
After the news of China limiting online gaming hours for minors, gaming behemoth Tencent issued a statement. “Tencent expressed its strong support and will make every effort to implement the relevant requirements of the Notice as soon as possible,” the company says.