China has passed a new law that prohibits children under 18 from playing video games for more than three hours per week. The law is part of social intervention efforts by the government to address growing video game addictions and the exploitation of minors by game developers.
The law, which was passed earlier in the week, is yet another step in China's efforts to enforce further control over its populace and key sectors such as tech, education, and property. After years of runaway growth, officials have now stepped up efforts to rein in industries such as tech and video games.
The new rule, which was passed by the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA), applies to any device that can be used to play video games, including smartphones, tablets, and personal computers. The move is expected to be a major blow to the video game industry, which targets hundreds of millions of young players in China.
The NPPA reasoned that the rules are necessary to protect China's children, which it says are the "future of our motherland." The agency said the physical and mental health of minors is the government's top priority. Through the new rules and future supporting measures, the agency hopes to create a new "era of national rejuvenation" for the younger generation.
Minors will now only be allowed to play video games from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They will also be allowed one hour of gaming during public holidays.
Aside from reducing video game addictions, the NPPA's new rules also target major tech giants such as Tencent and Alibaba, which produce dozens of video game titles under their respective subsidiaries. The NPPA said the campaign should place further control on the "savage growth" of some companies.
Game developers will now be barred from providing video game-related services to minors outside of the stipulated hours. The companies will also now be required to implement real-name verification systems to ensure the safety of minors playing games online.
According to government data, about 62.5% of children under 18 play games online. Around 13.2% of minor-aged players spend more than two hours per day, weekend and weekdays, playing games.