Will a limit for teenagers' gaming hours put Chinese Esports into jeopardy?

In August, the official news agency, Xinhua published an article that called gaming as “spiritual opium” that is harming the country’s youth.

Just a month and a half after that, the government has called on to take strict measures against the whole esports ecosystem. (Credits: Aljazeera)

Chinese Esports system is under a lot of trouble. The Chinese National Press and Publication Association issued a new rule that would stop all the school going children to play online games for more than three hours a week. It is the latest step in a series of events that the government has taken with regards to regulating esports in the country.

Gaming addiction as main problem

In August, the official news agency, Xinhua published an article that called gaming as “spiritual opium” that is harming the country’s youth. The article also called Tencent, which is the single largest developer, and the parent company of Riot as the root cause of the problem.

Just a month and a half after that, the government has called on to take strict measures against the whole esports ecosystem. Although PC and console gaming will face the blunt of the situation, it is mobile gaming which will be the main target of the new regulations.

When we look at the number, then China is the largest esports market, with over 400 million fans and viewers. This sata has come from the state-run news outlet the People’s Daily. With numbers like that, putting restrictions on the whole of the ecosystem will impact all of Chinese Esports scene.

Now, one would say the rule is good and will promote more education, and would create behavioural impact on the childres. The trouble is, local and national governments was backing the industry and have been a crucial element in supporting the games industry. Competing to host tournaments, and even allowing university courses in esports, new rules will take a lot of tol on that. The new rules came into effect from September 1, and have restricted anyone under 18 years old to gaming only three hours a week, or one hour per day at 8 pm on Fridays through Sundays.

“It meant that a lot of game developers in China shifted their priorities to themselves, either developing games just for the domestic market, or to try to reach the global market industry, with localised titles or specialised titles that launch around the world first, and then come back into the mainland,” Daniel Ahmad, an analyst at Niko Partners in London, told Al Jazeera.

“Gaming is part of the culture, and China is the largest games market in the world,” he said. “This isn’t something that is suddenly disappearing overnight for minors, even though the limits are extremely harsh. It’s still part of the culture. Parents of minors today have grown up with gaming, so they’ll be more liberal minded and may be more open to letting their children use their accounts to play games.”

Dent to Chinese Esports?

Whether or not these new regulations will have the kind of results tje government wants to see, will be seen in the future. The existing rules were largely being bypassed through borrowing IDs of adult family members.

Some jokingly brought up other recent top-down policy moves by the government such as the three-child policy, with one person posting on Weibo: “For all the adult gamers, don’t jeer at minors too hard now, because who knows if there will be a policy someday that requires you to prove that you have a spouse and at least three kids before being allowed to log into your games.”

A Weibo user with the handle “Betty” questioned how big of an impact the rules would have on the esports industry.

Scanning through the bios of pro esports gamers, one would figure out that these pro players are most;y just teenagers or kids who started out very young. Some became professionals at just 14 or 15, fine-tuning their motor skills and tapping ability with nimble fingers.

“The age restrictions will drive a lot of young pro gamers to not get engaged with esports, so I think that will be one of the major impacts,” said Cui Chenyu, an analyst at tech consultancy Omdia in Shanghai. “These leagues train gamers to improve their gaming skills and they’re starting very young,” she told Al Jazeera.

China is now the only country in the world that controls gaming hours by law. Previously South Korea also banned players under the age of 16 from playing after midnight, but the government recently decided to abolish its 2011 Youth Protection Revision Act



WRITTEN BY
Sportslumo Desk

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