Gaming addiction in China prompts time limit and curfew for players

3 Jul 2017

Image: chaipanya/Shutterstock

China’s biggest social media and gaming company has said it will limit kids’ play time on its hugely popular Honor of Kings game, in light of addiction concerns.

It seems that general fears of children becoming addicted to smartphones and games are having a tangible effect on company practice.

This is becoming evident in China, where Tencent has taken moves to reduce the amount of time kids spend playing one of its most popular games, Honor of Kings (or King of Glory).

Daily limit

According to Reuters, from this week onwards, users aged below 12 will be limited to one hour of play time each day, while those aged between 12 and 18 will be limited to two hours a day.

Further to this, users below the age of 12 will soon be banned from logging into the online game after 9pm, one of the first instances of online curfews in gaming.

“There are no rules to prevent indulgence in mobile games in China, but we decided to be the first to try to dispel parental worries by limiting play time and forcing children to log off,” Tencent said.

Tencent’s services stretch beyond China’s borders, but it is unclear if this stance will also spread elsewhere.

That said, experience with gaming might work out to be a good thing if harnessed correctly. For example, gaming is being used to help develop peacekeeping skills worldwide, with Trinity College Dublin leading a €2m project in Europe.

Tencent multiplies

However, with Honor of Kings, which sports 163m active users, these potential benefits seem particularly far-fetched.

The game is the highest-grossing of its kind worldwide, with parents and teachers complaining about overuse.

Armed with more than 200 games, Tencent also said it would upgrade a parental-control platform – something new to 2017 – that makes it easier for parents to monitor their children’s gaming account activities.

It will also step up the requirement of real-name registration for all users, meaning those who have yet to provide real-name information will be treated as if they were kids, thus facing these restrictions.

The company, which dominates Chinese social media through its WeChat tool, has become very active in its global expansion plans in 2017.

The immense functionality of WeChat – Tencent’s social media platform – was something that was inevitably going to spread, but it was never clear if it, or a rival, would bring such services to Europe and beyond. Now we know.

Tencent recently revealed plans to open two new EU offices to complement its Italian presence, with the UK confirmed as one of the new locations, according to Bloomberg.

The company also put $1.8bn into Tesla, with its businesses stretching beyond operations serviced through smartphones alone. Bike-sharing, one of the many booming industries in China, is another one to have felt the financial might of Tencent.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic