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Asia Minute: China Cracks Down on Young Gamers

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China’s government is limiting video games for young people.

The state-run news agency Xinhua reports that starting Wednesday, anyone under the age of 18 can only play online video games for a total of 3 hours a week — and only on weekends.

China’s relationship with video gaming has been uncomfortable for decades — and not only when it comes to young people.

Back in 2000, the People’s Daily called video games “digital heroin.”

Game consoles were actually banned for more than ten years, until 2015.

A little more than four years ago, state-run media ran a series of articles comparing a Chinese-made mobile game called “Honor of Kings” to “electronic drugs.”

The Guardian reports the first article in the series knocked some $60 billion off the market capitalization of the game’s maker — Tencent Holdings.

But the company recovered — its shares nearly tripled in value through this February, while China became the top market in the world for video games.

And esports have gotten government backing — Beijing officials say they want their city to become “an international capital of online games.”

Not to be outdone, Shanghai officials say their goal is to become “the world capital of esports.”

But this past March, President Xi Jinping gave a speech listing video game addiction as a concern for China’s young people — sending shares of Tencent’s stock tumbling again, by the way.

The newest restrictions announced by China’s National Press and Publication Administration do have one bonus: an extra hour of video games on national holidays.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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