China declares victory over teenage video game addiction
Suddenly discovers that game-adjacent tech has its uses – and it's a huge export industry
China has declared victory over the scourge of teenage video game addiction.
A report on the state of the nation's video gaming industry released last Saturday reviews progress towards the state-mandated three hour a week limit on gaming for minors, and the industry's efforts to ensure it doesn't poison the minds of Chinese gamers.
The report – inexplicably published as a series of image files by the regulator-affiliated China Game Industry Group Committee – asserts that around 70 percent of Chinese kids observe the gaming time limits and that the goal of the measure has therefore been met.
The document also heaps praise on game devs for cleaning up their acts, and their games, so that player verification is properly performed and game content steers away from forbidden or unwholesome subject matter.
Another observation in the report is that China's games industry is quite substantial – at home and abroad – so it's nice to see it straighten up and fly right because that means its prospects are strong.
So strong that state-sponsored organ China Daily last week published a paean to the games industry, noting that the technologies it employs have been misunderstood as only suitable for entertainment. Gaming tech has since been used for real-world applications that benefit China – such as creation of digital twins – making the industry worthy of reappraisal and recognition that it has matured impressively.
That's quite a turnaround from last year's position: that gaming is "spiritual opium" that disrupts family life and causes kids' school grades to fall.
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Publication of the report follows Chinese regulators approving a batch of games for release. From mid-2021 to April 2022 China's National Press and Publication Administration went nine months without approving any new games. Since April 2022 the Administration has issued monthly approvals for new games – but not every month.
Chinese tech giant Tencent offered investors a rosy outlook for its gaming business in a quarterly earnings call last week, so perhaps the industry does have something to look forward to.
While the report is positive on the subject of gaming, it also notes that plenty of the kids who obeyed the gaming time restrictions found another distraction: short online videos.
Thankfully, from Beijing's perspective, pervasive censorship means such vids seldom depart from approved topics. The platforms that host them got the memo about appropriate expressions of Chinese values even before the gaming industry. ®