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Online games to clean up their action
By Chen Hua (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-08 01:51

China's software industry will soon classify all its online games in an effort to protect the health and welfare of children from violent and pornographic content.

China Consumer's Association, China Software Industry Association and Software World Magazine announced Wednesday that they will work together to provide standards to classify online games in order to create a more healthy environment for adolescents.

A man surfs the Internet in Shanghai. [AFP]

The computer gaming industry is developing rapidly in China. Online game revenues amounted to 1.32 billion yuan (US$159 million) last year and are expected to reach 6.7 billion yuan (US$810 million) by 2007.

Through last year, China had 13.8 million online game players, accounting for 20.2 per cent of Internet users and the number is expected to grow to 41.8 million by 2007.

At present, online games have no grades and anyone can log onto the Internet to give games a try.

Statistics show that 80 per cent of online game players are under the age of 25 and have become addicted.

Most of the games are imported and some of them contain "improper" content for young people, including material that is violent, pornographic, gambling or superstitious.

For example, the popular online game Fantastic Mah-jong is a pornography-ridden one.

"Adolescents are not mature enough to resist the influence of unhealthy online games," said Li Xinmin, a professor at China National Children's Centre.

"They like to imitate people around them but lack the ability to separate the virtual cyber world from the real one," he added.

Many children become too addicted to games to stay concentrated on their studies. Some even spiral downward and commit crimes.

One typical example is a 15-year-old boy in Shenzhen of South China's Guangdong Province robbed an old woman to get money to play online games, according to Shenzhen Evening News.

Teachers and parents often worry about their children's vulnerability since most kids don't have access to good guidance.

"To develop a healthy online environment needs the efforts from many sides. Our government should issue laws to call on game developers to produce healthy games for children and Internet bars should not to provide access to improper games," Li said.

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