China, between new rules and addiction, a real regulator?

In a bid to be a regulatory state, China has restricted minors to 90 minutes of online gaming per day during school hours from Friday to Sunday since August 2021. If one can doubt the real effectiveness of this rule, the Middle Kingdom does not stop there and announces one new rulebook on frame streaming for minors. She believes the drifts in streaming services are too big and that live broadcasts lead to problems related to mental and physical health. They are the door to all excesses in education and addiction, especially when it comes to money.

So, to curb “the problems” that streaming shows can cause, China requires people under the age of 16 to stop financially participating in the activity of streamers and not be able to watch them after 10 p.m. These measures only affect local platforms such as Bilibili, Huya & Douyu or Douyin, the Chinese TikTok. These new rules are part of the government’s vision to better control the entire video game industry. Motivated by the desire to protect children from the “chaos of social media”, the Middle Kingdom intervenes, from approving projects to banning games on the territory …

China leaves little room for publishers like Epic Games, who have closed the Fortnite servers in the country, a shortage given the number of potential players but an inevitable choice given the extremely limited game time and the impossibility of setting up the economic model (microtransactions). If these measures strike us as some sort of attack on freedom to Westerners, we must not forget that China has been repeatedly hit by very worrying addiction phenomena. Furthermore, the government intervened as early as 2008 by classifying internet addiction as a clinical disorder, 10 years ahead of the WHO.

However, it seems like a good idea to prevent minors from making online purchases. Streamers can also be a powerful influence on them and want to be able to grab their attention through large donations, a vicious cycle and quite unhealthy.

Video games offer a social outlet and a fairly accessible distraction (especially with cellphones) in a country where economic growth has disrupted traditional social relations. An environment conducive to the development of addiction. The government views video games as “a social evil that threatens the Chinese Communist Party’s cultural and moral authority.” The government has even opened detox centers to discover it through a documentary signed by The New York Times.

If, at first glance, the Chinese government cares about the health and well-being of its young people, we must not be frank. It is clear that restricting access to video games and controlling young people’s free time can prevent games from conveying ideas contrary to government interests. Very paternalistically, these restrictions apply only to minors and not to adults (not yet).

However, the Middle Kingdom is forced to find a balance, because the sums generated by the video game contribute a lot to the country’s economy, like miHoYo, which invests in projects aimed at improving its image. In 2023, the Chinese JV market is expected to weigh 23.3 billion euros, just that much.

Leave a Comment