In 2019, the Chinese state imposed time limits on access to video games for players under the age of 18. From that point, children weren’t meant to play games for longer than 90 minutes a day, or 3 hours on public holidays. Those rules were further tightened in August 2021 so those under 18 could only play for 1 hour on Fridays, weekends and public holidays.
However, the strict time limits have had no effect on heavy gaming in general, according to a study.
China, which has famously called video games “spiritual opium” through a state media article, aren’t fans of the country’s youth investing time into gaming.
The strict game time limitations for minors were imposed partly out of concern they could develop addictions, but a new paper published in Nature Human Behavior found no evidence that the rules have had any impact on excessive gaming at all.
Gaming companies like Tencent have tried to follow the regulations through ID and face recognition, but there are still ways to work around them. This includes playing different video games or having multiple accounts. These accounts can be owned by an adult or parent.
While heavy gaming hasn’t been suppressed, the rules have certainly had an impact on the overall playtime. A Niko Partners study in 2022 found that 54 percent of China’s young gamers were complying with the regulations. While that is still a small percentage of the total, the complete effect of the rules will likely be felt gradually over the years.