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Authorities in Beijing announced the new restrictions for anyone under the age of 18. Furthermore, the limited gaming time has been issued from 8pm until 9pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
According to reports, this new measure will be enforced by making gamers use real-name registration and require face scans.
This will stop those under 18 from gaming outside the designated hours.
The BBC reported there will be inspections of game companies in conjunction with the new rules for those under 18.
It is believed to be in response to concerns about gaming addiction throughout the communist nation.
China’s President Xi Jinping
China restricts children playing games for three hours a week
Previously, China had limited the length of time under-18s could play video games to 1.5 hours on any day and three hours on holidays under 2019 rules.
The rules from the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) regulator coincide with a broader clampdown by Beijing against China’s tech giants, such as Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings.
Xinhua News Agency quoted an unnamed NPPA spokesperson as saying: “Teenagers are the future of our motherland.
“Protecting the physical and mental health of minors is related to the people’s vital interests and relates to the cultivation of the younger generation in the era of national rejuvenation.”
China restricts online gaming to just three hours a week
The NPPA regulator told Xinhua it would increase the frequency and intensity of inspections for online gaming companies to ensure they were putting in place time limits and anti-addiction systems.
It also said that parents and teachers played key roles in curbing gaming addiction.
The new rules swiftly became one of the most discussed topics on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter.
Some users expressed support for the measures while others said they were surprised at how drastic the rules were.
Xi Jinping profile
“This is so fierce that I’m utterly speechless,” said one comment that received more than 700 likes.
Others expressed doubt that the restrictions could be enforced. “They will just use their parents’ logins, how can they control it?” asked one
Earlier this month, Tencent, the world’s most profitable video game company by revenue, vowed to curb the time children spent playing its flagship games.
The tech company rolled out a facial recognition “midnight patrol” function in July.
Online gaming restricted to three hours a week in China
This was used to root out children masquerading as adults to get around a government curfew on underage gamers.
This is ot the first time Chinese authorities have intervened in the country’s booming online gaming industry.
Back in 2018, regulators halted the issuance of video game licences for more than eight months.
This triggered sell-off among investors of Chinese companies which provided such services.
The latest crackdown comes despite online gaming being a hugely profitable business in China.
Over recent months, Chinese state media have been highlighting concerns of “gaming addiction” among parents.