Stricter rules on new games

By Liu Xuanzun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/9/2 23:18:39

Govt plan aims at protecting children’s eyesight

China plans to restrict the release of new online video games, in a scheme said to be aimed at protecting children's eyesight but one that has blindsided the Chinese online game industry, which has seen a steep decline in share prices.

The scheme, jointly drafted by eight government agencies including the Ministry of Education and the National Health Commission and released on Thursday, aims to greatly reduce the rate of myopia rate among Chinese children.

As part of the anti-myopia campaign, the total number of online video games will be controlled in order to reduce teenagers' time playing video games, the scheme said, which didn't explain how restricting the release of new video games will curb the amount of time young people play existing games.

The scheme also did not explain how video gaming can cause myopia as opposed to watching television or using a computer for other activities.

The scheme suggests preschool children use electronic products for non-study purposes for less than 15 minutes per session, and no more than an hour a day. For study purposes, children should rest 10 minutes for every 30 to 40 minutes of using electronic devices.

Shares of Tencent and NetEase, two Chinese game giants, fell almost 5 percent and more than 7 percent respectively on Friday, following the release of the scheme, which has landed a huge blow to the Chinese game industry.

Some 80 percent of video game companies on the Chinese A-share market saw their stock prices fall on Friday, Beijing Youth Daily reported.

Chinese netizens said that it is the right move to protect children's eye sight, but the limitation on the release of new video games will also impact adults who play the games.

Since the number of video games will be limited in the future, game developers many no longer develop new and creative models, but stick to old ways which have already proved successful, Zhang Zhuo, a game industry insider and a former employee at Tencent, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Investors will also tend to turn away from the industry because of  the scheme, as shown by the decline in stock prices. This will further restrict the industry's development, Duan Juncheng, a Beijing-based video game industry analyst, told the Global Times on Sunday.

An age-based classification mechanism for video games would be a better solution under which play time and games available to children will be limited, while giving adults wider access, Duan said.

He noted that the age-based classification would allow parents to better control which games their children should be playing.

Other regulations in the scheme state that children should use electronic products as little as possible and students should be prohibited from bringing mobile phones and tablets and computers into their classes.

The Education Ministry said in a notice released on Friday that it is important to do so because myopia is closely related to children's health and the nation's future.

The National Health Commission said in June that the myopia rate among children in China ranked first in the world.

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