Why did China ban video games?
China banned the sale of video game consoles like Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox from 2000 until 2015 due to fears that gaming would be a negative influence for children. The ban coincided with a boom in smartphone use in China and the rise of Internet giants like Tencent and Alibaba. FortuneChina’s gaming market was built on free and addictive games. Can Beijing stop kids from playing them?
Did China ban video games?
Notably, China imposed a near-complete ban on video game consoles in 2000, fearing the addicting-like impact of games on its youth; the ban was ultimately lifted in 2015. ... As with other parts of its media, China's government has strong oversight of the video game industry. wikipedia.orgVideo games in China
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05 September, 2021 - 10:20pm
Those under the age of 18 can now only play for one hour, between 8pm and 9pm, on Fridays, weekends, and public holidays. These are by far the severest restrictions on game-playing of any country where internet access is widely available. Many online games in China require ID registration, and for minors signing in, the system logs the time spent playing. If a child exceeds the time limit, a window pops up, leaving little choice but to stop.
The rules impact every game published in China that can be downloaded or accessed online, affecting mobile games and PC games. (Console gaming remains a relatively tiny part of China’s enormous gaming scene.) Some 743.5 million people play games in China, according to market research firm Niko Partners, of which around 110 million are under 18.
“The restrictions were already strict,” says Zhu, referring to 2019 regulations that had already proscribed minors to playing 1.5 hours on any day, and three hours on holidays. “To push it even further, it’s really unexpected,” she says. “It’s going to hit the industry hard.” Zhu’s colleagues were scrambling to update their games’ backend, to ensure their titles complied with the new rules, which went into effect just a few days after the announcement.
The new measures are designed to prevent minors from becoming addicted to online games, which are a “widespread concern” that “the majority of parents agree with,” according to a document issued by Chinese authorities. The four-page announcement mentions “anti-addiction” or “addiction” nearly two dozen times in language that is targeted and repetitive, and says that “teenagers are the future of the motherland.”
The blow to gaming stocks was relatively mild after the announcement, as children are not a major source of revenue for gaming companies, and restrictions were already in place for minors. But analysts predict long-term consequences. “What we’ve learned from the historic console ban in China is that consoles remain a niche in the region, even now,” says Chenyu Cui, a senior games analyst for Omdia, a tech-focused market research firm.
“When these restricted younger players grow older it’s possible that games will not play as big a part in their consumption of entertainment media, meaning the industry – particularly mobile – could start shrinking after perhaps ten to 15 years.”
Daniel Ahmad, a senior analyst focused on China and Asia for Niko Partners, says these regulations are part of an ongoing trend to control the popularity of online games in China and is part of a wider push to more tightly regulate gaming.
In recent years Beijing has sought to bring China’s sprawling online gaming ecosystem to heel with measures including formalising and strengthening ID systems, and boosting censorship controls. And the social impact of gaming, as it has grown, has come under increasing scrutiny.
These restrictions are also taking place amid a wider crackdown on China’s entertainment industry, which include punitive measures against online fan clubs and celebrity fan culture (such as the sale of merchandise and websites which rank celebrities), and on tech firms such as Tencent and DiDi. Analysts also predict that live-streaming and video apps will see greater government regulation to tackle “internet addiction,” in a national Marxist revival under Xi Jinping’s leadership.
In short, Beijing wants people to spend less time eyeing celebrities and content that could draw away their admiration. The revival included introducing “Xi Jinping Thought” into the national curriculum, from primary school up to university, so that “teenagers establish Marxist beliefs”, according to guidelines released by China’s Ministry of Education in 2018.
The recent crackdown on internet companies is another step in this re-emphasis as Xi promotes his vision of “common prosperity.” As Bloomberg reports, this policy – “one where the interests of investors take a distant third place to ensuring social stability and national security” – has enormous consequences, and has already wiped billions of dollars off the value of some of China’s biggest tech companies.
Ahmad also mentions the underreported issue of myopia in relation to the restrictions. According to official statistics, over half of children in China are short-sighted, and rates appear to be on the rise. In 2018 an official survey found that 72 per cent of children aged between 12 and 14 had myopia, an increase from 58 per cent in 2010. Causes of this have been attributed to children not spending enough time outdoors and too much time in front of screens, a growing problem around the world. In 2018 Xi declared myopia “a major issue related to the future of the country that we must attach great importance to and not allow to develop”.
Many in China will support the crackdown. “I think it’s great,” says Ji Liwei, a 34-year-old English tutor based in Beijing. “Most teenagers, especially boys, like to play video games, and they can’t focus on study or cultivate other hobbies.” Support is one thing – but will the restrictions have the desired impact of tackling perceived addiction to gaming? Chinese newspapers often report on examples of addiction which leads to “concern of the whole society over minors’ excessive gaming”, says Chungdi Zhang, an analyst for market research firm Ampere Analysis. “I think this new rule shows that the majority of Chinese society still has a bias against games, and parents overly blame games for problems arising in children's development, which became the main driver for the government's increasing regulation of the games industry,” Zhang adds.
China is not the first country in Asia to impose restrictions. South Korea enacted the so-called “Shutdown Law” in November 2011 to combat gaming addiction, which was designed to prevent under-17s from playing games between midnight and 6am. (The law was recently repealed as it was discovered to be ineffective as it didn’t apply to mobile games.) Officials in Japan are also worried about excessive gaming among children, which appears to be a growing problem. But the introduction of any restrictions is unlikely due to strong protections in Japan’s constitution to prevent government overreach.
And even in China the ban may be relatively easy to circumvent. Steven Jiang lives in Beijing and is in his second year of high school. The 16-year-old’s favourite games are Genshin Impact (developed by Shanghai’s miHoYo) and the enormously popular Honor of Kings (published by Tencent Games). Despite spending an average of fours a day playing these games Jiang believes the restrictions are overly prohibitive. “Games are games, study is study,” he says. “Not everyone has lost their ability to control their time.” But perhaps more pertinently he says the restrictions don’t really affect him.
Jiang says he and his gamer friends – “mostly boys, some girls” – all use boosters. Also known as accelerators, many gamers in China use these VPN-like apps, which connect Chinese players to overseas servers, to get access to titles not released in China. So far the government appears to be turning a blind eye to the use of these boosters.
Ahmad also believes China’s gaming minors won’t be so easily constrained. “Kids are kids, they will continue to find loopholes,” he says. “This isn’t the end of gaming. The government will introduce regulations as they see fit, but it’s still a growth sector.”
As for Jiang, he thinks the government should allow children the freedom to develop their own ability to control their time. “It makes me relaxed,” he says, about his hobby, “and it’s a good way to socialise, playing with friends. Next year we’ll have the big test [the college entrance exam] and we will all try to give up games. We’re human – most of my friends we like to play. But studying is the first thing we need to do.”
05 September, 2021 - 10:20pm
People in China under the age of 18 will only be allowed to play video games between 8pm and 9pm on Fridays, weekends and on public holidays, under new rules introduced this week. China’s state media service says the rules aim to curb gaming addiction.
China has a history of making dramatic moves aimed at cutting down children’s gaming time, which have included a cyber curfew set in 2019 restricting game play at night, to forcing players to make their real names and identification numbers visible when playing. Some parents have sent kids to military-style anti-gaming camps.
It’s clear China is associating time spent gaming with addiction; that more time gaming equals addiction.
However, the way the World Health Organization defines addictive gaming disorder is different. It’s not about time, it’s more about the attitude and intensity a person brings to the gaming. Addiction means being obsessed to the point where other things in life are falling down due to the gaming.
My research, which has involved speaking to many children about their gaming, suggests most kids are drawn to gaming chiefly because it is a way to hang out with friends. And even when strict rules are introduced, many kids will try very hard to find a way around them.
True gaming addiction is like gambling addiction; it goes beyond a fun past time to a no-holds barred intense approach.
People might stop showering, they may lose friends, they may find themselves thinking about it day and night, watching as their grades go down.
The WHO says to be diagnosed with gaming addiction, a person needs to demonstrate all three of these symptoms for at least 12 months:
There is a big difference between being an enthusiastic gamer and being addicted to gaming. So as long as these things aren’t happening, spending time gaming isn’t found to be harmful in the long run. In fact, some studies are showing the benefits of gaming on children’s well-being.
True gaming addiction affects only a small number of people. The American Psychiatric Association estimates that around 0.3 to 1% of the population will be diagnosed with this condition.
When I heard about these new rules, I thought: to an average 15 year old boy, three hours a week is not a lot. Many would clock that up in an average day. So for many kids in China, this will feel like a big change.
If players all game at the same time, there will be a lot of pressure on the servers and a lot of lag time. Many games will not function properly, which will be very frustrating for players. In response, the gaming industry may develop games that can be completed in a shorter amount of time.
Gaming could also shift to other kinds of platforms that are not official video game platforms, such as unlicensed games accessible on foreign platforms such as Steam, or gaming on virtual private networks (VPNs).
China’s ruling may reduce video game play at first. However, one thing we know for sure is that the online world always adapts.
A lot of parents really struggle to get their kids off the games, especially in lockdown. It still tends to be boys (usually between about the ages of 10 and 18) who game a lot, although girls are getting there.
I can understand parents who have heard about China’s new rules and thought it sounded pretty good. Having the government take the reins would appeal to some parents.
But I would urge parents worried about their children’s gaming to really sit down and ask their child why they are drawn to gaming so much. Not in a judgemental “Why are you always on there? Why can’t you give it a break?” way, but in the spirit of true curiosity.
When I talk to children for my research, the number one thing they say about why they game so much is that they like hanging out with friends.
It is a sense of community. It’s like going to the park or hanging out at a mall, but it occurs in an online space. Some kids talk about how they don’t even really play the game, they are just hanging out with friends on that platform.
Yes, the games are designed to be competitive and there is an adrenaline rush and lots of action, which of course they are attracted to as well. But for many kids, it’s chiefly about the social aspect.
Understanding why your kid is drawn to gaming may help you contextualise your own concerns around their gaming time.
Some parents may be considering implementing the three hours a week rule in their own home.
I can understand the appeal, but everything in my research shows most older kids will find ways to get around the rules. They may game at odd hours, when parents are not watching or disguise their gaming as other online work.
Yes, parents need to set boundaries around gaming. It should not be 24/7. It’s healthy to have rules around when they can play, how long they can play and the types of games allowed.
Parents need to properly understand the ratings for games; I have encountered cases of six year olds playing R-rated games, which have very strong sex and violence themes.
Look up your games on YouTube to see the type of imagery and game play involved. Play them with your child and talk together about the content.
Children often tell me they are drawn to gaming because they feel there’s nothing else to do at home. In lockdown, that may feel especially true.
So think about creating space for other activities kids can do at home. We don’t expect parents to be their child’s social concierge and organise all of their activities, but if you can do some non-screen family activities that may help give the child a more diverse diet of playtime.
And lastly, parents should be aware of their own screen time. Kids can perceive rules restricting gaming time as hypocritical if the parent themselves spends a lot of time watching TV or on their phone.
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05 September, 2021 - 10:20pm
05 September, 2021 - 11:21am
As Jurassic Express was hanging in the ring after their match, Cult of Personality hit and Punk headed tot he ring. He grabbed a microphone and said he thinks it’s super cool how involved the audience is. They sing wrestlers’ entrance songs, they’re chanting AEW and it’s an amazing party-like atmosphere. “It helps, it really does,” said Punk.
“I’m Super Grateful, Humble Punk now”
Punk said he’s been tasked with “sending the crowd happy” and led the crowd to sing the ‘Golden Girls’ theme song.
Last week in Milwaukee, he addressed an AEW crowd and told them, if you enjoyed the show, great, tell your friends about it. If you didn’t enjoy the show, “shut the F up.”
He wanted to clarify what he meant by that. He doesn’t mind criticism. In fact, he welcomes criticism, because that’s feedback on how they can improve. However, there is a segment of wrestling fans who are negative for the sake of being negative.
“The part about shutting the f–k up is for the people who hate watch stuff and have nothing good to say, or nothing good to add to the conversation. We don’t need you, so shut the f–k up.”
CM Punk wants Sunday’s All Out pay-per-view to be like a “gigantic party” that makes people wish they were there in person.
“At the end of the day, ya’ll are our bosses,” Punk added. “If you’re not having a good time, please let us know. But if you like what you see, you let us know and we’ll give you all that we have. So, sing those songs, cheer for these guys, boo for the ones you don’t like. And if you don’t like it…”
CM Punk battles Darby Allin tonight at AEW All Out. It will be Punk’s first match in over 7 years.