By Baruch Kaplan
The government of The People’s Republic of China recently implemented a new legislation mandating that no online video-gaming is legally allowed during the school week for students all over the country. Meaning, any student under age of 18 will not be able to play any video games between Monday and Thursday, indefinitely. The reasoning being that they want students to connect to an anti-addiction system operated by the National Press and Publication Administration. This opened up a major opportunity for video game companies to create and sell new systems that can kick kids offline throughout the week.
However not everyone agrees with China’s strict mandate. Daniel Ahmed, a London based senior analyst at Niko Partners said, “this ruling is certainly harsh and will essentially wipe out most spending from minors”. Furthermore, this has made quite an impact on the gaming industry. Without the Chinese market, which supports an enormous number of its population playing video games, these industries are losing millions in potential earnings. Technology conglomerate holding company “Tencent” has lost over $60 billion since the new ban. With almost 665 million players who spent over 278 billion yuan ($42,990,131,280) on video games, China boasts the world’s most lucrative gaming market. Another aspect this ban influences is the player base that these games maintain. With its massive video game market, China is known for their immense video game tournaments. That said, it is believed this will bring another setback to the industry and potentially send another wave of negative sentiment to the market and every-day investors. Overall, expectations for the future of the gaming industry and its growth in China is starting to decrease. With this ban, besides losing all their money, these games are losing a big percentage of their player base during the Chinese school week. At a CNN news conference when they announced this ban, a spokesperson for the NPPA National Press Photographers Association) said “many parents said that teenagers’ addiction to online games seriously affected their studies, physical and mental health.” There are gamers that pointed out the drawbacks of imposing a blanket ban, suggesting that the rules should be different for different ages, users and games. “Are the ages 7 and 17 the same?” asked another anonymous gamer. This affects everyone who plays the game because now there are less online gaming “lobbies” to play on. All around the world there are gamers that compete in online video game or “ESports” tournaments. How are younger individuals supposed to prepare and practice this sport if they aren’t given the opportunity to practice? 17 year olds in other countries may develop an unfair advantage; how are kids in China supposed to compete if they can’t start playing consistently until they are 18? Earlier last week South Korea announced it would abolish a law that kept children under the age of 16 from playing games between midnight and 6 a.m. Instead, any parent or guardian can arrange times for children to play. This strategy may be a lot smarter than a ban because this way if a parent sees the child needs more or less play time they can manage that at their own discretion.