By Paul Mazur and Elsie Chen., New York Times Company.
China’s video game industry is booming. But that’s certainly not the case with game designer Stone Shi in China.
Xi, 27, got his first job in 2018, when Beijing temporarily suspended approval of the new games. Next year, the government will set new limits on juvenile play time. A few weeks ago, the rules were still strict. People under the age of 18 can play only three hours a week on weekends.
“We never hear any good news about the gaming industry,” Xi said. “We have this joke: ‘Every time this happens, people say it’s the doomsday for the video game industry.’ So we say, ‘Every day is the Day of Judgment.’ ‘
This is a bit of an exaggeration. Xi stays at work, and millions of Chinese play games every day. Minors still find their way around government blocks. Chinese tech companies, such as Tencent, are the backbone of the global gaming industry. The country is also working hard to embrace competitive gaming, build sports stadiums and make college students important in this regard.
Still, China’s relationship with the Games is complex. A major source of entertainment in the country, sports offer a social shop and easily accessible hobby in a country where rapid economic growth has affected social networks and there are long moments of work. The multiplayer mobile game “Honor of Kings”, for example, has over 100 million players a day.
For years, though, authorities – and many parents – have been concerned about possible ups and downs, such as drug abuse and disorder. A more patriarchal government led by Chinese leader Xi Jinping has turned to direct intervention in how people live and what they do for fun, gaining control of video games high on the priority list. Is. Among other activities, like celebrity fan clubs, Xi’s government has increasingly viewed sports as an unnecessary distraction – and at worst, a social disease that threatens the cultural and moral leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.
On social media, gamers are amazed at the latest rules. Some reported that the age of sexual consent, 14, was now four years younger than the age at which people could play without limits. Although minor Chinese video gaming accounts for a small portion of revenue, shares in gaming companies fell on concerns about the long-term impact on gaming culture.
Despite the anger, Xi said, the party and industry are growing in line with government demands. For most adults, the new ban has little effect. For companies, this is just another barrier to entering a profitable industry.
Many in the Chinese gaming industry agree that games are lacking. The most popular games in the country are made for smartphones and are free to play, meaning that businesses that live and die based on how much they attract consumers and Pay them extra. Game developers have become experts at hooking players.
But top-down efforts to keep children out of sports – which state media have called “poison” and “spiritual pollution” – sometimes get worse. Boat camps fond of military discipline have sprung up. So there are accounts of abuse with the Chinese media, such as beatings, electrocoliotherapy and solitary confinement.
Even the country’s past ban on consoles like the PlayStation has made matters worse. The ban helped boost the popularity of free-to-play mobile games. Studios that sell games for consoles are encouraged to make high quality games like blockbuster movies. It’s not, he said, with free-to-play games, which encourages players to get the most out of it.
For Shi, the new government limits are like those imposed on his mother when he grows up. On weekdays, its PlayStation 2 is locked in the cabinet. Every disk he bought was scrutinized. Most of them were considered inappropriate.
When he entered college, he entered an era he called “payback”, when he had strict limits. Even now, he sometimes gets into the habit of gaming or spends more. “What is important to understand is that for a generation that grew up without a large number of siblings, many parents who worked late, video games have become a social out of school pressure,” he said. Introduced a portal to the world.
“After school, I would finish dinner alone, and that sounds sad, but what made it less sad was my gaming friends,” he said. He remembered that when his parents stopped him from playing games, he would go online and watch other people’s games.
“Banning people doesn’t mean people will do what you want them to do,” he said.
China is uniquely equipped with how children spend their time online. A real name registration system for phone numbers has effectively eliminated Internet anonymity. To register for anything on the Chinese Internet, for example, social media or gaming, you need a phone number. If a child’s identity is linked to their cell phone plan, it’s easier for companies to identify them as minors.
Still working. When authorities began restricting juvenile play time in 2019, children explored ways to access cellular numbers linked to adults. Some will buy, others will rent. Many people borrowed or borrowed phones from their parents or grandparents. In response, Tencent needs facial recognition to verify the identities of its famous sports players.
When Chinese Internet users pointed to an account this month, they said it was probably being used by a minor – because it belonged to a 60-year-old man who specialized in an overnight session on “Honor of Kings.” The company said in a statement that the account has passed 17 facial recognition scans since March.
Many gamers and designers are wondering what will happen to the popular competitive gaming industry. Those involved in sports said the rules would probably hurt recruitment and talent development. Ma Zhou, a 30-year-old sports player and streamer, said the rules could stop a career.
A talented 15-year-old player will have to wait a few years to participate. The world of sports could change dramatically in two years. “Sports is a cruel world.”
Hou Xu, founder of the Yizhimeng esports training center, said it could take some time for the new rules to take effect because gamers already have a pipeline. Hao, a 20-year-old industry veteran, said the ban was “the most uniform”, although it was unlikely to change training, as schools get parental permission and accounts to ensure that Players under the age of 18 can play. enough.
Through his schooling, Hao said he mostly tries to show kids who are obsessed with video games and often their parents how difficult it is to make it in competitive gaming. Only one in his latest 60’s class got trials in a pro club. He failed to find a place.
Instead of focusing on his students’ impossible career as a gaming star, he tries to work on deep issues with them. “Often, children’s spiritual needs are not met. It’s easy to have a sense of accomplishment, identity and initiative in the virtual world, but it can’t happen in their studies or in life.”
Game designer Shi said he has already seen kids go to other sports like entertainment. After the ban, he ran to a store with a large number of children and was testing and painting statues for the strategy board game Warhammer.
“If I have kids and they have a problem with video games, I’ll look for things we can do together, like warmer, chess, go or play. They’re all great alternatives to video games.
This article was originally published. New York Times.