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China moves to increase restrictions on young gamers

The country’s semi-official industry association has called for stronger limits, despite claiming to have fixed the issue of video game addiction
China moves to increase restrictions on young gamers
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China’s Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association has called for more restrictions on gaming among young players, reports The South China Morning Post.

At a conference held in Guangzhou, secretary general Ao Ran stated that “adolescents have a strong awareness of the negative impact of games, and also have a certain sense of self-control while playing games.”

China imposed strict limits on playtime for minors, restricting them to just one hour of gaming, three nights a week. Although the country recently claimed that this policy has solved the problem of video game addiction, Ran stated that the games industry should “further improve the level of protection and bolster these measures.”

“Minor protection is long-term and fundamental work. Our peers must resolutely implement the requirements of the regulators and explore technical means, such as facial recognition.”

These remarks indicate that, while China has seemingly become more lenient to the games industry, including announcing a fresh wave of licences this month, the government has no plans to lift the restrictions on young gamers.

Tencent’s two cents

Tencent, the world’s largest gaming company and the second largest company in China, seemed to agree with Ran’s words, with senior director Zheng Zhong stating “Tencent Games will continue to explore more innovative forms of protection for minors.”

Notably Tencent has previously taken measures which pre-empt restrictions, with the BBC hightlighting their movies to dodge outright bans such as facial recognition software which prevents children from playing for too long, or late at night. As such, it’s clear that Tencent is eager to comply with any regulations put in place to protect minors.

However, it appears that China is slowly becoming more aware of the success of its games industry, with the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper, The People’s Daily, stating in November that gaming is an industry of “great significance to the country’s industrial layout and technological innovation.” As such, while the government is working to increase its grip on the industry, it’s clear that it still sees its potential.

While protecting minors is an important endeavour, China may need to fine-tune its approach to help maintain the industry’s revenue while still ensuring that its concerns are met, and that its approach to tackling them are proportionate.

We listed Tencent as one of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2022.