Has China Banned Gaming?


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Paul Siebert

Is Gaming Forbidden In China?

China’s government passed a law regarding the use of video games by minors in China. They are not allowed to play video games for more than three hours a week anymore. On Monday, the 30th of August, the government of China announced a new law which took effect on the 1st of September. Minors are no longer allowed to play video games for longer than 1 hour on Fridays, weekends and national holidays. They legally can’t play games during the school week any more.

The Happenings

The Chinese government had already banned users younger than 18 from playing video games between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. in previous years. The government introduced their revised law on the 30th of August because gaming, according to them, causes minors to be nearsighted, addicted and also less responsible when it comes to performing tasks in the household. In response to that, the government had to restrict gaming in their country even more to “benefit minors’ both physical and mental health”, as they said in their official explanation, which they published through the Xinhua News agency. 

The government makes sure that the law will be enforced by requiring gaming companies to use an anti-addiction system which will be operated by the National Press and Publication Administration. Companies will have to require their user’s name and age. 

The People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s principal newspaper, said that there was no room for compromise and negotiation on the new measures. The commentary read, “the signal sent by this move is very clear—the government can be ruthless.” In another released document by the government, it justifies its decision by saying that the new measures are designed to prevent minors from becoming addicted to online games, which is a “widespread concern” that “the majority of parents agree with.” It also says that “teenagers are the future of the motherland,” which is why the government has to take care of them.

Effects and Consequences

Minors’ payments only make up around 3% of most video games companies’ revenue so the new law will probably not have too many financially orientated consequences for the companies in the close future. But Chenyu Cui (senior games analyst for Omidia, which has been researching the Internet for the past few decades) says that these restrictions might harm gaming companies in the future if the generation, which isn’t allowed to game as prior generations were allowed to, will not integrate gaming in their entertainment media consumption anymore because they didn’t bond to it as much as prior generations did. So we might see the gaming industry shrinking by a good bit in 10 to 15 years. Especially because round about 110 of 743.5 million gamers in China are minors.

The restriction of gaming in such an extreme way might also scare away investors on the Chinese market who just cautiously returned after a raft of regulatory probes into areas from online commerce to data security and ride-hailing ignited a trillion-dollar selloff in past months.

Reactions and Opinions

Steven Leung who is an executive director at UOB Kay Hian (Hong Kong Ltd.) has expressed that “Three hours per week is too tight. Such a policy will have a negative impact on Tencent too. It will hurt the nascent tech rebound for sure.” Tencent itself on the other hand said that it firmly supports the new rule and will make every effort to follow it: “Since 2017, Tencent has explored and applied various new technologies and functions for the protection of minors. That will continue, as Tencent strictly abides by and actively implements the latest requirements from Chinese authorities.”

 Minors themselves don’t seem too impacted by this. Teenager Steven Jiang for example says he and his friends are all using VPNs to be able to play games which are just released overseas. They can just play with VPNs right now and the government hasn’t mentioned anything concerning these VPNs yet. And there are also good news for offline gamers because the data acquisition necessary to determine how old a user is can only be carried out if the user is online.

 Zhu Jingtong, a manager at a games publisher in Shanghai, was shocked. Zhu and her colleagues were blindsided. “We didn’t know anything beforehand,” she says. “We found out at the same time as everyone found out.” That isn’t really a surprise since the government called the gaming industry motivated by profit at the expense of public morals and it has officially stated that it tried to prevent the disorderly expansion of some platform companies in the last years.


In conclusion, it can be said that China has taken the biggest step regarding the complete restriction of gaming of all countries which have restricted gaming yet. How big the impact on China’s and the world’s economy as well as the youth’s  development will be, we will probably only find out in the near, or maybe not so near, future.