China will attempt to limit the amount of continuous time online gamers can spend staring at their monitors amid growing concern about "addiction" to games such as World of Warcraft and Lineage II.
There are an estimated 20m+ Chinese regularly indulging in online gaming, the BBC reports, paying around $500m a year for the privilege. Although the Beijing authorities will in September host a two-day gaming conference in the hope of attracting foreign investment, they are worried that young people are simply spending too much time in virtual worlds.
Accordingly, from October, anyone who goes over a three-hour limit will see his character's abilities reduced. Hitting five hours will result in severe character limitation. Players will then have to take a five-hour break before getting back down to it.
All of China's main games operators have agreed to the controls - unsurprisingly since they are state licensed - and just to show how willing they are to fall into line, Interfax-China news agency reported the operators as "prepared to sacrifice short-term revenues to create a healthy environment for online gamers", which is very noble of them.
The games initially facing control are: World of Warcraft, The Legend of Mir II, The Legend of Mir 3G, Lineage II, Westward Journey Online, Fantasy Westward Journey Online, MU, JX Online, First Myth Online, The World of Legend and Blade Online. ®