By Kayla Ngai
Kotaku, China’s Game Publishers Association Publications Committee (GPC), claimed that they have reduced children’s gaming addiction. According to them, the problem is now, essentially, “resolved,” which means that gaming went down 70 percent–with young people playing as little as less than three hours per week.
This is not a new endeavor; China has been cracking down on gaming since August 2021. According to the Gaming Bible, “a curfew was introduced, for example, which aimed to limit kids from gaming for more than an hour on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.”
Although censorship in China is not new, it is harsh. Unsurprisingly, the government would also control what kids choose to do in their own free time. I believe, when it comes to gaming, it should be up to the parents to decide how much time they should allot to the activity.
This subject carries multiple factors as it depends on what the parents deem appropriate for their kids and the type of games they play. Not every child, nor household, is the same, so they should not be treated as such.
Some parents seem to agree with the restrictions, as they let their children work it. For example, some parents (around 35 percent) let their kids use their identification cards to register for games and accounts. Admittedly, KidsHealth does mention how some games may lead to violent behavior. However, that is only with violent games. There are studies have shown that some games can actually be beneficial for minors and improve hand-eye coordination. Parents.com insists that games can improve brain development for kids, help children socialize, spark creativity, and more.
Overall, I think it is up to the parents to do their part and research appropriate games for their children. They can monitor their time and the type of games in accordance with their morals, rather than the government having sole control over what is deemed suitable.
But, as a result of China’s bans, the new numbers released by GPC indicate that the restrictions have worked. Companies, such as Tencent and Netease, have been applauded for their compliance with the new regulations.
Yet, as more companies continue upholding China’s gaming standards, China is predicted to cut back on some of their constraints. Daniel Ahmad, the senior analyst at Niko Partners, spoke to CNBC news, saying, “With game companies now fully compliant, we are seeing a more positive outlook start to develop.” There were also seventy new games approved by China’s regulators which is a positive sign for their gaming community. Before now, “China froze game approvals only in the summer and only began green lighting games in April this year.”
Although it seems like a good thing that China is easing its strict gaming bans, Martin Lau, president of Tencent, said the company is seeing “positive signals across the path of macro and regulatory normalization.” Since the “easing” is due to companies’ compliance, it does not seem reassuring. The big gaming corporations are still expected to comply with China’s standards and enforce them on their audience. There is no leeway except a false sense of liberty.
Gaming has always been a topic of debate in concerns with parenting. However, as far as the government is concerned, it is better if they don’t move past labeling various ratings on different games. Families should be able to provide and curate their own entertainment in accordance with their own rules. Despite being solely about video games, this also speaks to a larger issue where censorship takes away the right of choice.