Are video games addictive?
It’s a question that has rolled around in the popular conversation about video games ever since they really hit their stride in the 1980s.
And, no matter what side you are on, there are some strong opinions out there about it.
Tencent, probably the world’s single largest mobile gaming outfit, is putting its thumb on the scales as it announces a program to limit a child’s game time to one hour per day in an effort to curb excessive gaming or even “addiction.”
A report from The Next Web details how Tencent is planning on pursuing an aggressive approach to regulating children’s gaming with a bevy of options geared at parents to help them regulate their child’s playtime. Likely formed as part of a response to the dual concerns of gaming addiction as well as the scrutiny the company receives back home in China, Tencent has enabled a verification system on some of its games after blockbuster hit Honor of Kings was being blamed in mainland China for everything from truancy to incomplete homework.
In what can only be compared to the Fortnite phenomenon, some of Tencent’s games have gone on to become headline-grabbing things themselves – but for all the wrong reasons.
As part of the new structures, players identified as being under 12 years of age will have their play limited to one hour per day while ages thirteen and above can play for two hours a day. Both groups cannot play the game between the hours of 9 PM and 8 AM according to a report in The Wall Street Journal detailing Tencent’s changes.
A company representative told the paper, “Minor protection is an important task that the whole society pays close attention to…[Tencent] has a high degree of responsibility and obligation.”
You might be wondering how Tencent is finding out how old a player is. After all, couldn’t they lie about their age?
To prevent that, the company is requiring that a government-issued id card is uploaded with all existing accounts and it will be a requirement for all new accounts moving forward. It will match these identity cards and their information with relevant government databases in China. How’s that for some oversight?
By the end of 2018, Tencent plans on having this system in place for 10 of its games. It will roll out the feature to all of them in 2019 as long as everything goes smoothly with the initial phase.
One of the largest gaming markets in the world, China’s games industry is expected to grow to $42 billion in revenue by 2022 with an expected surge in the gamer population to almost one billion players. Currently, the Chinese market is geared heavily towards mobile games and it is expected that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. As a major player in that space, what Tencent does is often copied by others so it will be interesting to see if these restrictive measures are pursued by other Chinese gaming outfits.