Sneak out your bedroom towards the computer room, making sure that all your parents are soundly asleep. Stealthily push the power button of the computer and double click on your favorite computer game…

Is this a part of your childhood nighttime memory?

Well, the younger generation in China might not have a chance to “enjoy” such moments anymore. From now on, kids under 18 are not allowed to play online games after 10 p.m., not allowed to play more than 90 minutes a day on weekdays, and not allowed to spend more than $57 for in-game purchases every month.

On Nov.5th, National Press and Publication Administration in China announced a new regulation to prevent children from video game addiction. This regulation includes six main aspects, and here are the three that caused most discussions:

  • Real-name authentication is required for online games. All users must provide their real names and identification numbers when they log in.
  • The time and duration of online gaming are restricted the underaged. Gaming services are not provided for minors from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m., and the total gaming time should be less than 3 hours on weekends or legal holidays and 1.5 hours on weekdays.
  • Specified standards of in-game purchase are provided for minors. Game companies should not provide in-game purchase services for users under 8. For users above 8 and under 16, the amount of purchases should be no more than $28 per month and less than $7 per order; for minors above 16, the amount should be no more than $57 per month and less than $14 per order.

Jack Li, a Chinese student from Annenberg, considers the restrictions on in-game purchase to be quite meaningful. “Some children are unaware of how hard it is to earn such amount, and they just splurge their parents’ money. Such regulation can help them to form a good habit of spending money.”

“Kids that are addicted to games will always find a way to play and purchase.” Another student from China, Serena Yang said, expressing her doubts about the real effects of the regulation. “They can use their parents’ or grandparents’ identification, or use the real-name information of their classmates who does not play games… You can never restrict them.”

“I think this regulation in China comes a little bit late. Some other countries have already done a lot in this field,” said Zi’an Zhang, a student in interactive media and game division from SCA.

Indeed, China is not the only country that has restrictions on video games for minors. The Youth Protection Revision Act in South Korea, which came out in 2011, blocks online gaming for kids under 16 from 12 a.m. to 6 p.m. and banned online game shop services of XBOX Live and PSN for underaged.

“The situation in China is complicated. In some small cities and towns, parents are away for work and they have little time to accompany and educate their kids. Free-to-play games are the main ways of entertainment for children in their spare time. I think these children are the real targets of the regulation.” Zi’an explained. “Although I grew up with games, I have to say that there are lots of interesting things other than video games in my childhood. I agree with such restrictions for minors.’

Our Esports desk of Annenberg Media also had a discussion on the regulation in the Twitch live stream on Nov.7th. Check it out!