OPINION> Commentary
Regulate online games industry
(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-11-11 07:44

It is high time to address teenagers' addiction to online games despite the high economic returns of the industry, says an article on the website www.qianlong.com. The following is an excerpt:

For most fans of World of Warcraft, a massively popular online game, it is just a game. But for players who are addicted to it, they cannot distinguish the game from the real world. On Nov 8, China's first diagnostic standards of Internet addiction passed the verification of experts, officially classifying the addition of online games into the scope of psychological diseases.

In my view, it is a much-expected move. The medical circles are addressing the harm caused by online games to human body and soul, raising an alarm for the negative influence of online games upon the society and the individual.

In 2007, the number of online games users in China reached 40.17 million and the sales revenues of the online publication market topped 10 billion yuan for the first time. As estimated, by 2012, the sales revenues of China's online games market will reach 26.23 billion yuan. Obviously, the online games industry is growing at a rapid pace with bright prospects. Meanwhile, in recent years, the online games industry has given birth to the tycoons who have led the top 10 Forbes China rich list.

Despite the woes caused by the current financial crisis, China's online games industry has seen no trace of slowdown. The prosperity of online games industry has encouraged more entrepreneurs to enter this market. In some parts of China, local governments even have adopted preferential policies towards the development of online games in a bid to spur local GDP.

However, behind the rosy picture of the booming online games market lies the degeneration of 4 million Chinese teenagers, which has worried numerous parents. In addition, quite a large number of youths or college students are also addictive to the games. As an expert said, the IQ of the teens will decline by 10 percent if they are addicted to online games for three years.

Although Internet addiction is by no means a fresh topic, the negative impact of the online games market, which grows with the indulgence of numerous people, has not been fully realized by the society. Few people have pointed out the dark side of these games because of the pressure of seeking economic growth. Ironically, the problems of Internet addiction have already bred a new market - the mushrooming of institutions helping people get rid of online addiction. According to reports, they charge extremely high fees and have thus far limited effects.

Probably it is not necessary for us to uproot online games. But if an industry lacks the sense of social responsibility, it is no good news for the society even though it can create exceptional GDP values for the time being.

(China Daily 11/11/2008 page8)