China's New Youth Online Gaming Restrictions Birth Underground Workaround Industry To Defeat It

from the oops dept

It will not be controversial to say that China has always been one of the leaders in the war on the internet and culture alike. Between the Great Firewall of China at the macro level, the almost hilariously Orwellian tactics like forbidding certain karaoke songs, and the full destruction of democracy in Hong Kong, it’s clear that Beijing values control over everything else.

But control isn’t always so easy to implement. Take China’s restrictive new regulation on online gaming among youths, for instance. These rules, implemented in order to combat “video game addiction” for minors, limit online gaming Friday through Sunday and on national holidays to 1 hour a day, 8pm to 9pm. This is achieved by forcing the gaming companies to implement a “real name” account policy. Gamers have to create an account utilizing their real names, which are checked for user age, in order to get into the online games.

Well, you probably already know where this is going. The new rule has given rise to an underground industry for renting gaming accounts that are registered to adults. Adults can also just let their children use their accounts, also defeating the check. In other words, this has all become somewhat pointless.

‘Complying with the new rule isn’t technically difficult because it’s just a matter of writing new [Software Development Kit] codes,’ Zhu told Kotaku. ‘[SDKs are] integrated as part of the login process. What happens is that when new players log in, they are asked to enter their ID number which then verifies their age. Every gamer needs to log in with their real names…[and] every [domestic] game that legally operates in China is required to have that function.’

According to Niko Partners’ [Daniel] Ahmad, parents aren’t barred from giving their unrestricted adult accounts to their children, and there’s a large gray market for adult gaming accounts. If an underage player wanted to, they could circumvent the new restrictions

And they are! Nobody can say for sure how much of this is occurring, but if the lawsuits are flying about you can bet that it is some significant number. And, considering that one of the methods for defeating the restriction is for parents to simply let their kids use parental accounts, this all seems really silly. After all, it should be obvious that the main thrust for China putting these rules in place is some version of Beijing wanting to parent children, only to have those rules defeated by parents and children.

So, does China admit defeat and rescind or rework the new rules? Of course not!

This summer, Tencent rolled out a time-sensitive facial recognition system for sixty games, including Honor of Kings. Dubbed “Midnight Patrol,” it aims to prevent tricksy youngsters from posing as grown-ups between 10pm and 8am. “We will conduct a face screening for accounts registered with real names and that have played for a certain period of time at night,” Tencent Games said at the time (via Sixth Tone). “Anyone who refuses or fails the face verification will be treated as a minor, and as outlined in the anti-addiction supervision of Tencent’s game health system, and kicked offline.”

And you can bet that the facial recognition piece of this will be defeated, too. That is how this sort of thing tends to go, after all. This is something akin to the famous John Gilmore quote that the internet sees censorship as damage and routes around it.

Game on, Chinese youth!

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Comments on “China's New Youth Online Gaming Restrictions Birth Underground Workaround Industry To Defeat It”

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19 Comments
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Something something video game addiction is the Asian version of I saw a white van at Target.

No one wants to look at the reason kids desire to play video games for hours on end in a state where even a walk to the corner market can drop your social credit rating 300 points.
No one wants to look at the reason kids meet up online in games where, if we believe US Spooks AQ was recruiting and plotting in WoW chats, they have a bit more freedom without Big Mao looking over their shoulders.
No one wants to look at the escapism gaming offers to kids who can see their future of being corporate drones & praying when they jump that the suicide prevention net will fail rather than face another day making iphones they will never be able to own.

That they feel beaten down daily all of these expectations & computers/cameras making sure you don’t dawdle in the wrong area to long… why the hell would they want to pick up a giant sword and charge into battle with others who count on you to swing and hit your target & have the social group standing that no one gets in the real world.

Bad plans abound.

I mean a nation plagued by workers throwing themselves off buildings to their death… the solution?
Make them put up more nets.
Not look at the insane demands & abuse the workers have to deal with and force change.
More nets so they can still work after a visit to the ‘happy camp’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Say what you want about China’s ancestral approach towards foreigners and their influence and whether it’s justified, but it’s somewhat amusing how China regularly mocks the West for having a heavy-handed approach, then turns around to pull this sort of big brain play after failing to prove that its philosophies and policies are superior.

They’ll gladly mock the US or whoever for trying to be "world police", enact equally if not even stricter measures to manage things back home… which turn out to be just as effective. It’s not just that China’s system is entirely pretty much just "rich people write the rules" in an oriental context. It’s that whatever happens, China’s focus is always on superficial appearances and bullying its citizenry into supporting that narrative above all else.

They’ll gladly let hundreds of people drown because local authorities were too scared of the backlash from calling for evacuation or how it’d make their infrastructure look. They’d rather focus their efforts in hiding the true extent of the flood damage and deaths rather than actually rescue people in trouble. They fuck up doctors who whistleblew about the pandemic and continue to pursue journalists who reported on the events.

Look up "Sue me if you dare, my father is Li Gang!" The technology got better, but the underlying priorities haven’t. Action is only taken if it risks embarrassing the powers that be or the status quo. You’re left to do what you want so long as the CCP considers you obedient enough, or just barely tolerable.

GHB (profile) says:

Just wow

It’s annoying that even basic things you have to enter such personal information. Even worse is when this applies to ALL games, not just games that horrid monetization schemes (microtransactions, loot boxes, etc.).

Thank goodness that it requires something in the physical world, a place where digital cannot effectively detect such things.

Paul B says:

Re: CCP will fix this

The funny thing is that CCP kinda does not care. Banning things when problems get to big to ignore is just the standard solution to almost everything in China. More likely CCP will just start banning games that have any kind of real child population. This way games will self censor and try to blocks kids.

CCP feels kids must be studying for there big "what are you gonna be" test. This is taken to such an extreme that towns ban hobby shops, any kind of kids games, and other stuff in favor of more study time.

Soon the only way around this law will be single player offline games.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: CCP will fix this

It’s not that they don’t want kids cramming for tests, it’s that they feel the tuition industry has outlived its positive PR and they’re trying to rein it in. High tuition fees and its necessity for clearing the national exams is but one of the things hurting the country’s ability to replenish its population, so the CCP does what most governments do: pick the path of least resistance and put on a show to make it look like something is being done.

The truth is that the tuition ban won’t actually matter. It’s not going to stop competitive parents from freaking the fuck out. It won’t stop more affluent families from simply getting black market tuition. It won’t help poorer families in rural regions where the education infrastructure is inadequate. All it does is help the CCP sell this narrative of the ideal Chinese youth who doesn’t spend time on the Internet, videogames, celebrities or academic tuition, because they’re the perfect citizen who doesn’t need frivolities or educational assistance unlike, say, the West. It’s also why some analysts are suspecting that the hit against tuition is another attempt for China to preempt "foreign interference" since a lot of tuition vendors have foreign ties, but personally I’m less sold on that argument.

The tuition ban is nothing more than the CCP desperately showing the world that they can effectively suck themselves off. They’ll think it’s impressive. They’ll think it somehow makes the rest of the world look bad. The truth of the matter, and the reality on the grassroots level, is that this embarrasses the CCP at best and is actively detrimental to its people at worst. But that’s what happens when you have a country that’s run on the basis of "saving face".

Anonymous Coward says:

Why only 3 hours a week, China wants kids ready for life where they work 9 hours a day 6 days a week they fear any pastime that might encourage thoughts of freedom and enable free speech outside the limits of a communist state . And they can limit games for adults to say 2 hours a day if they want. They are cracking down on idol shows anything that might be too popular and that glorifys individual talents and fandom of celebritys

Nimitz S. Golden says:

"And you can bet that the facial recognition piece of this will be defeated, too."

And in the meantime, their facial rec will screw over a number of real adult accounts, erroneously, as usual… hard to comprehend how one of the oldest civilizations on earth is now throwing tantrums like a spoiled 6 year old child – and not a very bright one at that. Sad.

Ceyarrecks (profile) says:

Sooo,...

So,…
is the root understanding that their are NO mature adults in China, save those "adults" in its government?
Is the whole country a huge DAYCARE of infants who need to be breast-fed, burped, their diaper changed, and be placed into their bed,…?

Are there no PARENTS that are purposefully raising their children to be respectful, responsible, and accountable members of society?

Is it just me? or has the progressive castration, pacification, and fear-training of society that has been going on for decades here in ‘Merica spread to other countries,…?

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