Over the past few years, gaming addiction has become an increasingly hot topic. While there has been a lot of debate on the validity of the topic, both in the general population and among mental health professionals, some have taken a hard stance. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO), which has been known to overreact to some circumstances, has declared it a mental health disorder.
The WHO has not taken the strongest stance against gaming addiction, though. The Chinese government is working to implement a new videogame curfew system for all minors. While there have been curfew systems in the past, implemented by consoles, operating systems, and game makers themselves, they have all been parentally enforced. This would be the first major governmentally enforced videogame curfew.
The rules in question are beyond strict. Anyone under 18 years of age will not be allowed to play any online games between the hours of 10 pm and 8 am. During the other, permitted hours, only 90 minutes of gaming will be allowed on weeknights and 180 minutes on weekends and holidays. In addition to a restriction on time, there will also be a restriction on monthly spending. Under 16 will be restricted to $29 and under 18 will be restricted to $57 per month. The BBC report does not discuss the possible implications for standard offline POC titles, which would be harder to police than online and mobile games, which would have a much easier process for monitoring.
This move comes as the Chinese gaming market is quickly becoming one of the largest in the world with a lot of global influence. There are several large Chinese game developers, as well as one Chinese company, Tencent, which has been investing heavily in game companies. These investments include Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, Glu Mobile, and complete ownership of Riot Games. This policy could have a direct effect on the bottom line of these companies that Tencent has an interest in.