Video Game Addiction Is Over, Says Chinese Video Game Addiction Regulator

from the thing-we-have-been-tasked-to-do-has-been-tasked dept

We should always be wary when a government entity charged with ending [insert issue here] declares said issue ended. We should be doubly wary when a Chinese government agency says anything about anything.

So, it’s with a huge amount of skepticism that we greet this announcement by a Chinese regulator, which claims the thing it’s keeping an eye on is no longer a problem. (via Eurogamer)

China has resolved the problem of game addiction among its youth, a report co-written by the country’s top gaming industry association said, in remarks likely to be welcomed by the regulations-battered sector.

The comment came from a report by the China Game Industry Group Committee, affiliated with the online game publishing regulator, China Game Industry Research Institute and data provider CNG, CNG said on its official WeChat account on Tuesday.

Parents and government officials (some of whom are both) have always felt the youths are spending too much time playing video games. The Chinese government, however, has made it a government issue. Whether or not “video game addiction” is really a thing doesn’t seem to matter. The government has declared it to be a problem and now the Chinese video game industry is in the uncomfortable position of acting against its own best interests.

The more games people play, the more they buy — whether it’s new games or very profitable add-ons, like expansion packs, cosmetic items, or simply paying to win. But with regulators breathing down the neck of the local video game industry, the industry has responded by… well, at the very least, claiming video game addiction is no longer a problem in China.

Here’s what happened late last year:

Chinese regulators in September last year stepped in with new rules barring anyone under 18 from playing video games for more than three hours a week

How the video game industry was supposed to apply this restriction was left up to video game developers. This is yet another weird rule pushed by the Chinese government, which has frequently targeted gaming and gamers in an attempt to strengthen the nation (or whatever). The rule put into place last year was immediately gamed by gamers, which made it appear as though the three-hour time limit was being followed. In response to the new restriction, an entire sub-industry devoted to selling or renting adult-owned video game accounts was ushered into existence.

So, the supposed success is likely nothing more than minor gamers moving to adult-held accounts to bypass restrictions. But a victory on paper is apparently enough to declare victory in public — something the Chinese government can point to as evidence that its populace wastes less time than pretty much every other nation in the world. It’s a supremely hollow win, but that could be said about plenty of Chinese government “wins,” especially when it comes to regulating leisure activities.

Maybe this is the Chinese government hoping to put one of its many issues to bed. In 2008, a minor, who poisoned his parents, blamed his “video game addiction” for his actions. With this addiction officially (if not actually) ended, future killers will have to come up with different excuses for their psychopathy.

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