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I’m a gamer, always have been.

How China is Handling Videogame Addiction

This could potentially affect the rest of the world

The Chinese government is quite different from the type of governments practised across the western world in its policies and laws. China also has a large stake in the player base of many popular esports titles such as League of Legends and Fornite apart from streaming. Due to this, China’s new approach towards solving the problem of videogame addiction is one to take note of as American game developers must adapt versions of their titles specifically for this region – learn more below.

While it’s not a problem elsewhere, gaming addiction is an exponentially problematic situation in China with reports of deaths due to ‘over-gaming’ in internet cafes (though I’m sure this hasn’t occurred many times, it’s still a shocking notion) and also mobile-game addiction – other sources quote the situation as a ‘national problem’. It’s been reported that 20 percent of Chinese teens are at risk of video game addiction. Hence, the government has turned to Tencent, a technology-based company with fingers in plenty of pies, in order to restrict the games entering the region and how long they may be played.

Typical view of an internet cafe in Shanghai

Instead of integrating anti-addiction software for each individual title, such as what Tencent asked Riot Games to do back in 2018 to restrict League of Legends hours to a maximum of 3 per day, the Chinese government is taking a wider approach. Together with Tencent, the use of National IDs to register for online games is now in place; these National IDs being similar to Social Security Numbers. Using designated IDs, the government may track how long citizens are gaming for – Tencent is asking many game developers to invade the privacy of users. Apart from that, China’s new social credit system coming in 2020 will also associate with this concept of timing. \

How does this affect the rest of the world? China is forcing American game-developers to create privacy-invading software – they’re playing with Global Data Privacy Laws. Recently, Blizzard had to do exactly what Riot was asked to, adding a 3-hour limit to all their titles for Chinese players. Epic Games has added an ID system too, in order to assist with tracking.

While I know China isn’t like the rest of the world, I’m aware of the fact that it’s important to be informed about societies different to yours. Due to the growth of esports and gaming, it’s essential that the privacy of every single user is protected – ethics need to be respected.

Let us know what you think of the idea of the government tracking your gaming hours in the comments section below!

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