As the rest of the world continues to debate the impact of video games on children, China has decided to go all-in on a solution of its own. A new law came into effect on Tuesday that places pretty hardcore limitations on the nation's youth. Anyone under the age of 18 is now restricted - by law - from gaming for longer than 90 minutes a day, or between the hours of 10pm and 8am.
The New York Times reports (via Kotaku) that the changes were announced earlier in the week by China's National Press and Publication Administration. These new restrictions are supposedly in aid of tackling issues like video game addiction, nearsightedness, and "poor academic performance across a broad swath of society".
"These problems affect the physical and mental health of minors, as well as their normal learning and living," the National Press and Publication Administration said in a statement.
While the 10pm curfew is a seven days a week kind of deal, the good news is that kids will still be able to play for three hours a day on the weekends. I say good news. I don't really mean it. This whole thing sounds truly awful.
To make matters worse, it seems kids will have to register online gaming accounts using their actual names and ID. Presumably this is so the authorities can monitor players and enforce the law. It's unclear what the penalty for breaking curfew might be.
It would seem the government isn't just intent on restricting the time spent in front of screens, either. In addition to the curfews and time limits, a spending cap is also being introduced. This, apparently, is to limit the amount of money kids spend on DLC and microtransactions.
This new spending cap means that there's now a hard limit of between $28-$57 a month that minors are able to spend on in-game items. The limit is dependent on how old the user is. This comes as part of the government's efforts to "rein in" China's online gaming industry, according to the NYT. China's online gaming industry is reportedly one of the largest in the world, generating more than $33 billion in annual revenue.
Various analysts say that the new regulations have been known about within the industry for a while. As a result, many developers and publishers have already prepared for the restrictions.
It remains to be seen if the restrictions will have a positive effect on the youth of China, or whether they'll simply find various loopholes to continue gaming long into the night. Life uh, finds a way, after all.