Chinese Regulators Present New National Gaming Limits for Underage Players

Written by Bill Toulas
Published on August 30, 2021

The Chinese state has decided to impose new and more strict rules over how much time underage gamers in the country are allowed online, cutting back to just an hour per day on Fridays, weekends, and holidays. This essentially means publishers that offer multiplayer games should only accept new registrations with identity verification and then ensure underage users are restricted to a single hour of gameplay. Not only that - but the timeframe to play the game is set between 8 pm and 9 pm.

The state will be regularly scrutinizing these companies to ensure that they comply with the restrictions, so deviating from the new ruleset will be very risky. Possibly, the gaming firms will also be expected to deploy anti-circumvention mechanisms that prevent young hackers from unlocking more playtime.

It is a complicated matter that should be left to parents to resolve. Still, the Chinese Communist Party can’t trust the future generation to internal family self-regulation as it seems. At the start of the month, Beijing’s regulators made their case clear by calling online games “spiritual opium” and “electronic drugs.” Hence, they see a serious threat of stupefaction on the horizon, so a decisive and broad crackdown action to protect the future generation was to be expected.

If you are a young gamer in China looking to get into the competitive esports field, tough luck. Remember, using a VPN to obscure your tracks and make it appear as if you are based in a foreign country, thus not eligible for the verification process, can get you into legal trouble in China, potentially even imprisoned. If you’re planning to take your chances, keep the consequences in mind and move carefully.

As for how much “active” screen time is too much for kids, Spanish investigators who conducted a relevant study on children between the ages of 7 and 11 found brain functioning benefits from up to nine hours of gaming per week. Anything above that and behavioral problems begin to creep in. Based on that, the Chinese authorities have got it right.

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