New regulations surprisingly don’t include the phrase “You know, when I was your age…”

In recent years, Chinese-made online games have been steadily surging in prominence and popularity. But while gamers around the world are playing more games from China than ever before, there’s about to be a lot less gaming going on inside the country itself.

On Monday, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported that the country’s National Press and Publication Administration has introduced new limits on gaming for minors, which equates to people under 18 years old in the Chinese legal system. Under the new rules, minors will be allowed to play games only on the weekends and holidays, and for one hour a day. To clarify, that’s not anytime they want on the weekend, and only one hour a day during the week, but for only one hour each on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and forbidden from playing at all other times.

What’s more, kids won’t be free to pick the hour in which they want to play, nor will even their parents be given the freedom to pick when their children’s gaming hour will take place. Instead, all minors nationwide will only be allowed to game between 8 and 9 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Finished all your homework, done all your chores, and got an hour of free time from, say, 7 to 8 while Mom and Dad get dinner ready? Sorry, no video games for you. Watch some TV, or maybe go play in the street after sundown.

The goal of the gaming limit is to “strengthen education and family life,” and comes after a previous Xinhua article this month referred to video games as “spiritual opium” and asserted that “No industry, no sport, can be allowed to develop in a way that will destroy a generation.”

▼ We’ll have to go back and check our textbooks for historical examples of a society that was destroyed not by war, disease, or natural disasters, but by, say, soccer.

The three-hours-a-week regulation comes just two years after the Chinese government put in place gaming limits of three hours a day on weekends and holidays and 90 minutes on weekdays. The new rules also come with more forceful calls for minors to be required to play online under their real names, not made-up gamer handles. Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun says the announcement’s wording includes a call for “game companies to limit the provision of their services to minors to one hour a day on weekends and holidays,” which suggests that publisher could face penalties for underage gamers who find ways to get around the rules.

It’s definitely sad news for gamers in China, and all of a sudden, kids in Japan’s Kagawa Prefecture are probably feeling sort of lucky.

Source: Nihon Keizai Shimbun via Game Spark via Jin, Reuters (1, 2)
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