China game regulators have imposed stricter hourly limits on under-18-year-old children playing video games, according to Chinese state media.
The new rules outline a three-hour gaming limit for minors in China during the week and one hour on Friday, Saturday and Sundays. Players are also limited to gaming between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on holidays. The new restrictions cite the fear of gaming addiction in minors for the tighter restriction according to Chinese media. According to Bloomberg and its sources, the move is tied more to China’s efforts to curb its rapidly growing tech sector and reign in gaming monopolies in the country.
China has limited game time for minors before
These new restrictions are a part of past efforts within China to curb gaming among minors. In 2019 China, instituted similar restrictions, banning online gaming for minors between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. during the week and putting a limit on how much minors could spend on microtransactions in a month. Chinese officials track the hours and money spent by requiring everyone to register their online gaming accounts using their real name and phone number. Some games may even require facial recognition to play.
Tencet, the giant Chinese gaming publisher and parent company of Riot Games, has said it is cooperating with the government on these limitations. But the new law does raise questions on how it will impact China’s esports scene as a whole, since most aspiring professional players play long hours, stay up late and generally do not abide by any gaming limits imposed on them.
According to Kelsey Moser, the competitive and education development lead at Evil Geniuses who previously reported on Chinese League of Legends and has spent time in the country, the new law will not effect aspiring pros.
“There are a lot of systems in place that will allow pro organizations to support the talent pipeline for all ages,” Moser said.
These new restrictions are in sharp contrast to South Korea’s recent change of heart towards gaming and minors. The country recently rolled back its “Shutdown Law,” which was introduced in 2011, and prevented children under 17 from playing computer games from midnight to 6 a.m.
The rule, according to The Korea Times, does not apply to single-player, mobile games or social media, so it proved ineffective in curving the behaviors it set out to curtail.