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Gaming culture in China

People around the world not only love to gamble, they do so much more than they did just a few years ago.

The gaming industry is on the rise everywhere. And this is true regardless of whether it’s a matter of maneuvering one’s own avatar through a wide variety of adventures via video games or spinning on digital slot machines in an online casino like and the reasons for this boom also seem to be quite similar across the board. For example, it is easy to see the positive impact that the global pandemic has had on the sales figures for computer games and accessories. Another phenomenon that is a common thread is that the age of gamers continues to decline, with some starting excessive gaming in their childhood and early teens.

It is precisely this point that has given so much cause for concern in China that it has now been declared a state matter. But what exactly is behind it and what solutions are being used to try to counter it?

The high-tech nation and the gaming industry

There is a very simple reason why China is the focus of attention when it comes to video, computer and online games: The People’s Republic is so big in business that it is home to the world’s largest games market in terms of sales. But if you look at the population figures, it’s no wonder. The underage users alone make up a total of about 183 million! In this respect, there are of course strong economic interests behind the gaming industry. Above all, the Chinese companies Netease and Tencent, which are active in the field of Internet technology, are making a killing and obviously always know how to strike a chord with their products.

At the same time, they benefit from the fact that the Chinese are by nature a very game-loving people who are extremely open to all new technical developments. However, this is much to the displeasure of the government in Beijing. The government sees major problems associated with the hype, and quite rigorous measures have been taken to counter them.

The problem of gaming addiction

Gaming has become a widespread leisure activity in China over the last two decades. The target group is very diverse and includes a wide range of age and income groups. Gambling is therefore not a social no-go. On the contrary, it has become an absolute habit for many people. However, this has resulted in a tangible problem: The number of people already classified as addicted to gambling and those who are at least considered to be at risk has exploded. It is easy to see from the statistics that the Corona crisis has once again led to a significant increase. This is obvious, since the flight into the world of digital games was a welcome change for many Chinese during the times of social isolation. Gaming promised not only entertainment, but also interaction with others – for example, through very realistic role-playing games.

Among young people in particular, the extent of this has been even more drastic than among adult gamers. Due to the closure of schools, they inevitably spent most of the day at home in front of the screen. So it was only natural to shift their entire leisure life to this medium as well. The digital and yet so deceptively real-looking worlds that one can immerse oneself in thanks to sophisticated video games are tempting. They even give you the opportunity to assume a new identity and lead a double life, so to speak.

The fact that the potential for addiction is high is therefore not surprising and can be observed in a similar way in many other countries. In China, there is also the general enthusiasm for technology, which presumably increases the susceptibility. There is also another point that explains the even stronger appeal of computer games to Chinese young people. They probably feel the strongest social pressure internationally due to the one-child policy that continues to be in force, which raises them to become rule-abiding people. Personal freedom inevitably falls by the wayside. That’s why it’s obviously all the more appealing to become part of a digital universe and live out one’s life in a different skin, rebel or perform some heroic deeds.

The consequences of such an extensive gaming addiction are serious: On the one hand, it has been found that many young people already suffer from noticeably worsened eyesight. This will therefore directly lead to higher health costs in the later course of life, and for many of those affected it will also mean a restriction in their choice of occupation. On the other hand, classic addiction profiles also bring with them psychological side effects that are less easy to treat. Here, too, the state and society are called upon to take countermeasures so as not to lose an entire generation to the gaming craze.

As far as consumption is concerned, although countless video games continue to be played on PCs or the various consoles, the greater attraction obviously lies in online games. Here, the range is even broader than in the offline area, from first-person shooters to strategy games to multiplayer games, everything is represented.

State regulations for the protection of minors

What is the Chinese state now doing to get a grip on gaming addiction among minors? For example, the period of use for games on the Internet has been very drastically restricted. For example, a user’s account can now only be accessed for three hours a week, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. to be precise. Furthermore, many facilities have been set up to wean affected young people. To make access more difficult for children and young people, each registration must be made online with identification by ID number. If the game is already running, it is stopped by automatic setting after a few hours.

Other measures are also in place: Certain game content, such as the depiction of corpses or blood, is completely banned. Even the previously so popular games dealing with harem intrigues from the imperial era have been blocked for underage users. The blacklist also includes games with violent or obscene acts. Similarly, mahjong or poker games are not permitted for the underage target group, so as not to arouse any additional interest in gambling.

Only time will tell how effective all these attempts will ultimately be. However, it should also be clear that, in addition to all bans, more education is needed to make children and young people aware of the dangers at an early stage. In addition, attractive leisure activities outside the Internet are needed to promote a healthy balance in the long term.

Image source: unsplash

Last Updated on 2022/06/02

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