Government and Policy

China gets tough on online gaming

By Zhao Lei (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-06-23 06:26
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BEIJING - The country's Ministry of Culture (MOC) has meted out a tentative regulation on the administration of online games, stipulating that online game players should register their real names before participating in virtual competitions in cyberspace.

The regulation, which is the first official document focusing on China's thriving online gaming industry, will become effective on Aug 1. It applies to all domestic and imported multiplayer role-playing games as well as social networking games.

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The measure came after the number of China's online game players skyrocketed to 105 million as of April, according to a report released by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the State Internet administrator.

Internet users who want to play a particular online game must go though a real-name registration process with valid identifications, the regulation said.

The MOC specified the duties of the online game regulators and the procedures for screening imported online games. It also required online game companies to establish a self-censorship mechanism and ensure the lawfulness of the content of their games and the corporate operations.

Preventing minors from becoming addicted to online games is highlighted in the regulation, which forbids online game providers from offering unsuitable games to minors. Also, minors are not allowed to handle virtual currency.

Moreover, the regulation bans compulsory confrontations among the players set by the game administrators, a common practice to spice up the games' magnetism. Also, the regulation bans pop-up advertising maneuvers popularly used to intrigue netizens and lure them to the games.

"The regulation, in the near future, will inflict a moderate impact on the online gaming industry. However, it is necessary to take some actions to overhaul the industry, since it now contains too many traps for consumers. The influence of some online games is undoubtedly negative for some minors," said Yu Yi, a senior online game analyst with Analysys International, which is a famous Internet information consulting group.

"But in the long run, it will be beneficial for the industry's development," he said.

For the players, the regulation actually brings almost no more bother than before, except the real-name registration. Some players said they do not worry about the new regulations. Some said they have already become fed up with online games, and others said they agree with the regulations to prevent minors from becoming addicted to the computer games.

"I've once suffered from too many online games but now I have got rid of my addiction. Therefore I strongly support the regulations since I don't want to see my future child waste a few years on some nonsensical games the way I did," a netizen, who called himself Huaixiaoxin, wrote in an online news post on the regulation.