Gaming addiction, which the World Health Organization (WHO) recently categorized as a mental health disorder, is still a heavily debated topic in both psychological circles as well as governments. While some might not be quick to label it as a mental health issue, it’s hard to deny that it is causing problems, especially for impressionable young people. Perhaps unsurprisingly, China is now reported to be imposing some very harsh restrictions when it comes to minors playing online games, a bit ironic considering the country’s position in the gaming market.
By the numbers alone, China is one of the world’s biggest gaming markets. And that was even before gaming consoles were finally allowed into the country a few years back. China’s booming gaming market revolves around PC and mobile games, especially online ones, and it has been one of the first to make eSports a big deal.
Now it is also one of the first to impose heavy rules, at least for minors and online games. Those below 18 years of age are banned from online games between 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. the next day. They’re also only allowed to 90 minutes of gaming on weekdays and three hours on weekends and holidays.
China is also imposing restrictions on spending on online games, up to $29 per month for players aged 8 to 16 and up to $57 for those between 16 and 18. BBC’s report says nothing about offline games for PCs and mobile. Those may be harder to police than online games being run by companies that the government can control.
Game companies, both Chinese and foreign, have already implemented age-based restrictions for their products but that has reportedly been ineffective in curbing China’s game addiction problem. It’s still unknown how effective these new restrictions will be but the country has been known for its restrictive laws.