China has ‘solved’ youth gaming addiction: industry body

(FILES) A photo illustration shows a user playing the “Mole’s World” game on a smart phone in Beijing on June 8, 2021. (Photo by Noel Celis / AFP)

BEIJING, China (AFP) — China has “solved” the issue of youth video game addiction, a report co-written by the country’s top gaming industry body has said, a year after the government limited the number of hours young people could play a day.

China is the world’s biggest gaming market, but the industry — termed “spiritual opium” by state media — has been swept up in a tech regulatory crackdown marked by record fines, long investigations and the suspension of IPOs.

Since last September, under-18s have only been allowed to play online between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the school term.

As a result, “more than 75 percent of minors play less than three hours a week, and game addiction has been basically solved”, according to Monday’s report by the China Game Industry Group Committee, a top government-affiliated body, and data provider CNG.

“The anti-addiction systems adopted by gaming companies cover more than 90 percent of underage game users,” it said.

About 98 percent of people aged 9 to 19 in China own a mobile phone and there are around 186 million internet users 18 or younger, it added.

Gamers are required to use their ID cards when registering to play online to ensure minors do not lie about their age.

Companies are also prohibited from offering gaming services to young people outside government-mandated hours.

But there have been recent signs Beijing is softening its stance towards the sector.

Officials have slowly started approving new titles after freezing approvals for nine months until April.

Last week, tech giant Tencent got its first license for a video game in 18 months, ending a dry spell that had threatened its position as the world’s top game maker.

© Agence France-Presse