In recent years, China has placed restrictions on minors to curb the growing concern of gaming addictions amongst minors. These restrictions may seem harsh to many and were met with mixed feelings from those affected. However, it would seem that these restrictions have had a significant impact either way.
In 2019, the first set of regulations was put in place to limit the amount of time children under 18 spent on video games. This came after statistics in 2018 showed that 30% of Chinese children under 18 already struggled with a gaming addiction. These regulations restricted minors to only 1.5 hours of online play during the week and three hours on weekends and public holidays.
In 2021 the Chinese government and many regulatory bodies implemented even stricter regulations to curb gaming addictions among minors. However, gaming addictions weren’t the only reason for implementing these restrictions. They were also concerned with how the excessive amount spent on online games affected minors’ physical and mental health and their eyesight.
The regulating body explained that teenagers are the country’s future, and to ensure the country continues growing and developing, the health and mental well-being of these minors need to be a top priority.
The new restrictions limit minors to only three hours of gaming per week. Minors can now only play between 8 – 9 pm on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. While these restrictions might seem incredibly harsh, especially to gamers outside of China, they have already shown a marked improvement.
In 2021, the percentage of minor gamers in China playing less than three hours sat at 67.76%. More recently, the percentage has been recorded at 75.49%, showing that minors are spending less time on online games. This is a great result for curbing gaming addictions among minors.
The regulatory bodies of these restrictions have placed a lot of responsibility on gaming developers to help enforce these restrictions. And since the Chinese government evaluated every game before it’s released in the country, many companies have had to work alongside these regulatory bodies to ensure they have measures in place. These include capping algorithms, facial recognition and identity verification to ensure these time caps are in place.
China has definitely seen the benefits of these restrictions in a short period of time. It has many wondering if other countries will be able to use the same methods to curb gaming addictions among minors.
Many other countries have noted an increase in gaming addiction among minors. However, recreating these strict restrictions may not be feasible. Games that are extremely popular and can lead to addiction usually have some form of reward for the player. Some examples include Stardew Valley, Roblox, Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, PUBG Mobile, Mobile Legends, League of Legends, and many more.
One of the main issues comes in with loot boxes. For example, players were angry with Diablo Immortal introduced a loot box system, but that didn’t stop them from enjoying the game. It engenders situations or behavior where players are encouraged to buy Battle Passes or obtain this loot by paying, making them look cooler, or giving them a competitive advantage. Once a new game in the series is released, they all but forget what they purchased in the first place.
Not only will it be challenging to regulate game time, but it will also have a heavy impact on the gaming industry which should also be considered. For example, Battle Pass and loot box systems usually expire by a certain date. That means gaming for only three hours a week will have many players missing out. Maybe, restrictions to a lesser degree might be a good option for other companies to consider.