[News] China limits gaming time for minors to 3 hours a week

China limiting gaming time for minors to 3 hours a week. Thoughts and implications for the future because of this law?

Hi Gwjers, this news article from the Wall Street Journal hit home for me this morning. Mainly because I felt so bad for the minors in China who had to live with parents limiting gaming time but now have to deal with their government doing the same.

We’ve debated the benefits of games for kids for a long time now but I also think that good games are made by people who played and obsessed over the games they loved as children. I also think this could have implications on the eSports industry.

To be fair, it's specifically limited to online videogames, so if you have a console or something that's not connected to the internet and you're just doing single-player stuff I guess that's fine.

On the other hand, it's not just limiting online play to three hours a week - it's three specific hours a week.

The Article wrote:

The new regulation, unveiled by the National Press and Publication Administration, will ban minors, defined as those under 18 years of age, from playing online videogames entirely between Monday and Thursday. On the other three days of the week, and on public holidays, they will be only permitted to play between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.

I wonder if their internet is up to the task of funneling every person under 18 who wants to play games into a specific one-hour period. I have a feeling it's going to get hammered and a lot of those kids are going to find that stuff is basically unplayable because everyone else is trying to play, too.

So my first thought is that this is what happens when a government has too much control in individual health/lifestyle decisions. As much as I would love to make COVID vaccinations mandatory, I wouldn’t want to go so far as give the US govt this kind of power.

Secondly, I’m wondering what is the real reason behind the ban. Is it due to the pandemic and official fear of too much screen time, or are games a way for young Chinese to share anti-authoritarian ideas and organize?

And thirdly, are the Chinese on to something here? Screen time has been a problem for almost every parent I know during the pandemic, and it’s something I worry a lot about. Maybe American kids are going to be woefully underprepared in the upcoming power showdown with China. Think Sparta vs Athens.

jdzappa wrote:

So my first thought is that this is what happens when a government has too much control in individual health/lifestyle decisions. As much as I would love to make COVID vaccinations mandatory, I wouldn’t want to go so far as give the US govt this kind of power.

This position is at odds with reality.

We've had mandatory childhood vaccination programs for decades. My kid (and yours) has to show evidence of vaccinations (plural) to be allowed to go to the neighborhood public school.

Why was that fine, but inserting the word "COVID" into the same sentence makes it bad?

jdzappa wrote:

And thirdly, are the Chinese on to something here? Screen time has been a problem for almost every parent I know during the pandemic, and it’s something I worry a lot about. Maybe American kids are going to be woefully underprepared in the upcoming power showdown with China. Think Sparta vs Athens.

Huh? The Chinese are on to something by mandating an extremely limited amount of screen time for minors and that somehow relates to Sparta & Athens? I don't see the connection there at all.

jdzappa wrote:

So my first thought is that this is what happens when a government has too much control in individual health/lifestyle decisions. As much as I would love to make COVID vaccinations mandatory, I wouldn’t want to go so far as give the US govt this kind of power.

The States, at least, have had that power for over 100 years. In Jacobson v. Massachusetts, in 1905, the Supreme Court ruled that states do have the authority to enforce compulsory vaccination laws when they're "reasonably required for the safety of the public" (Wikipedia).

I don't think keeping kids from playing video games is necessary for public safety, though, unless you really buy into the argument that playing video games makes you a horrible person (and if you do, these are probably the wrong forums for you).

jdzappa wrote:

Secondly, I’m wondering what is the real reason behind the ban. Is it due to the pandemic and official fear of too much screen time, or are games a way for young Chinese to share anti-authoritarian ideas and organize?

Chinese state media called video games "spiritual opium."

Earlier this year the Chinese government announced they were scared that Chinese boys weren't masculine enough so they're hiring thousands of gym teachers, stressing physical education, and cracking down on celebrities who they think are effeminizing kids (think censoring pictures of men wearing earrings).

Who knows what the actual reason is, but it certainly smells like the various moral panics we had here in America about D&D, rap music, video games, etc. just with an extremely powerful central authoritarian government. We got a parental advisory sticker on albums government officials were freaked out about while China's cracking down on gaming because it has the technical ability to.

Or it could be pulling a Putin and systematically going after any cultural entity that might rival the party itself.

jdzappa wrote:

Maybe American kids are going to be woefully underprepared in the upcoming power showdown with China. Think Sparta vs Athens.

We literally just ended a 20-year long war today.

Perhaps we can focus on improving the lives of Americans for a couple of years before we decide China's our sworn blood enemy and that we have to spend trillions to get ready to fight them to the death at a moment's notice.

Keldar wrote:

I wonder if their internet is up to the task of funneling every person under 18 who wants to play games into a specific one-hour period.

Most countries, no. China, I suspect, could pull it off.

OG_slinger wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

Maybe American kids are going to be woefully underprepared in the upcoming power showdown with China. Think Sparta vs Athens.

We literally just ended a 20-year long war today.

Perhaps we can focus on improving the lives of Americans for a couple of years before we decide China's our sworn blood enemy and that we have to spend trillions to get ready to fight them to the death at a moment's notice.

I want to say something sarcastic and insightful because that is what I do (well the sarcastic bit anyway. )but I can't think of anything. So instead I will just say that I don't see much in the whole history of the US that makes me think we will do that.
The biggest investments in making the lives of Americans better have been done mostly to steal land and resources from others. Meaning unless we can take some pie from someone else we are not generally willing to give a bigger piece of pie from our plate.

farley3k wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

Maybe American kids are going to be woefully underprepared in the upcoming power showdown with China. Think Sparta vs Athens.

We literally just ended a 20-year long war today.

Perhaps we can focus on improving the lives of Americans for a couple of years before we decide China's our sworn blood enemy and that we have to spend trillions to get ready to fight them to the death at a moment's notice.

I want to say something sarcastic and insightful because that is what I do (well the sarcastic bit anyway. )but I can't think of anything. So instead I will just say that I don't see much in the whole history of the US that makes me think we will do that.
The biggest investments in making the lives of Americans better have been done mostly to steal land and resources from others. Meaning unless we can take some pie from someone else we are not generally willing to give a bigger piece of pie from our plate.

Are you serious here? I'm one of the least ra-ra America people I've known in my life, but even I find this sort of revisionist history to take things one step too far. New Deal? Marshall Plan? $1 trillion infrastructure that should've passed decades ago?

We make dumb choices all the time, and have stolen plenty of land and materials, but reducing the country to just that is silly.

Also, China is not our blood enemy. That's China's PR wing partially doing work on you. They're projecting more power than they have and they desperately need us to continue fueling our economy as the world slowly begins to turn away from them. A war with China is not inevitable.

This is a hugely lame move by China that I think is kind of hilarious and shows their authoritarian nature in the worst light: completely out of touch. They aren't going to suddenly make kids more "manly", it's going to turn them further away from being Good Citizens.

IMAGE(https://i.imgflip.com/3817xa.jpg)

garion333 wrote:

Are you serious here? I'm one of the least ra-ra America people I've known in my life, but even I find this sort of revisionist history to take things one step too far. New Deal? Marshall Plan? $1 trillion infrastructure that should've passed decades ago?

We make dumb choices all the time, and have stolen plenty of land and materials, but reducing the country to just that is silly.

The New Deal I would agree is an example - but an outlier and one that people have worked to undermine and weaken since it was passed.
The Marshall Plan... I need to know more how you think this redistributed American resources to help Americans. From the first page I found about it

The Marshall Plan, also known as the European Recovery Program, was a U.S. program providing aid to Western Europe following the devastation of World War II.

Which feels to me like an example of American lives getting better because we could take from others or at least build our wealth because they needed our help.

And I don't mean to reduce the country to "just" anything. It is a huge complex entity which has ideas/actions/history which is all over the map. However I do not see Americans generally giving up wealth/power/etc. for other Americans. I instead see them taking it from others and giving it to Americans.

farley3k wrote:

The Marshall Plan... I need to know more how you think this redistributed American resources to help Americans. From the first page I found about it

The Marshall Plan, also known as the European Recovery Program, was a U.S. program providing aid to Western Europe following the devastation of World War II.

Which feels to me like an example of American lives getting better because we could take from others or at least build our wealth because they needed our help.

That is an incredibly cynical read on what is ostensibly, an incredibly smart foreign policy decision.

Europe was in tatters at the end of the war. Economies had been entirely retooled for the war effort, and a significant portion of the population was dead.

America needed (and continues to need) stable, strong allies to achieve it's foreign policy goals, not to mention as trading partners. The Marshall Plan was how it went about ensuring those allies continued to exist.

You can choose to view that as making sure there were enough customers remaining for us to bilk, and to a certain extent, you're right, but you're missing the wood for the trees. Pull that camera back and look at the big picture.

Jonman wrote:

You can choose to view that as making sure there were enough customers remaining for us to bilk, and to a certain extent, you're right, but you're missing the wood for the trees. Pull that camera back and look at the big picture.

It would also be good to point the camera at what I was commenting about. OG_slinger said they wanted us to " focus on improving the lives of Americans" and I simply said that I feel Americans do not have a history of doing that if it means reduction in their lives i.e. reducing say their consumption so that others can have things. The only time that has happened that I see was the New Deal. Otherwise in American history we need to take from someone else.

Now I think that is probably true for all animals and not some failing of humans but I still think it is true.

So while I would like America to refocus on improving the lives of Americans I don't see that as typical for our country.

farley3k wrote:
Jonman wrote:

You can choose to view that as making sure there were enough customers remaining for us to bilk, and to a certain extent, you're right, but you're missing the wood for the trees. Pull that camera back and look at the big picture.

It would also be good to point the camera at what I was commenting about. OG_slinger said they wanted us to " focus on improving the lives of Americans" and I simply said that I feel Americans do not have a history of doing that if it means reduction in their lives i.e. reducing say their consumption so that others can have things. The only time that has happened that I see was the New Deal. Otherwise in American history we need to take from someone else.

Now I think that is probably true for all animals and not some failing of humans but I still think it is true.

So while I would like America to refocus on improving the lives of Americans I don't see that as typical for our country.

I think you're confusing American history with human history.

garion333 wrote:

I think you're confusing American history with human history.

So American's aren't human?

farley3k wrote:
garion333 wrote:

I think you're confusing American history with human history.

So American's aren't human?

no, we’re superhuman

/s

Since I'm catching up, let me clarify a few points:

1. I fully agree that schools and businesses have the right to set vaccination requirements for their students/workers/customers. I was referring more to China's draconian efforts to fight COVID, including monitoring and imprisoning non-conformers. I've seen a number of my Seattle coworkers and friends grouse about how China is "doing it right" in terms of the pandemic which is why I brought up that there needs to be a balance. To be clear, I think America is too far on the freedumb side.

2. I'm really hoping we don't go into an all-out war with China and I don't think that's the most likely scenario. So maybe Athens/Sparta was a little too hyperbolic. I do see an upcoming race for economic/political dominance and a possible cold war, one which I'm scared that America's young people are woefully underprepared for.

3. There's a lot I don't like about America's current superpower status. If we can avoid war, a better balance of power would probably be good for humanity. That being said, I'm not convinced China would make for a better superpower.

The last thing I'll leave with is this Seattle op-ed which sums up my feelings.

I bring this up because I think we all know by now that China is out to eclipse us as the world’s leading economy. And these video game rules tell me they’re convinced game addiction is real and that it rots young brains. I don’t know if they’re right, but I would hate to be in a situation where 20 years from now a generation of game-addled Americans ends up dragging down our economy while China unleashes a generation of emotionally-mature entrepreneurs to buy us out.

Americans are, of course, free to raise video addicts – that’s what makes us great – all I’m saying is that if you DO find yourself raising one, please do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t harm his or her future productivity. Because we all know who will be more than ready to fill the gap.

Jonman wrote:
farley3k wrote:

The Marshall Plan... I need to know more how you think this redistributed American resources to help Americans. From the first page I found about it

The Marshall Plan, also known as the European Recovery Program, was a U.S. program providing aid to Western Europe following the devastation of World War II.

Which feels to me like an example of American lives getting better because we could take from others or at least build our wealth because they needed our help.

That is an incredibly cynical read on what is ostensibly, an incredibly smart foreign policy decision.

Europe was in tatters at the end of the war. Economies had been entirely retooled for the war effort, and a significant portion of the population was dead.

America needed (and continues to need) stable, strong allies to achieve it's foreign policy goals, not to mention as trading partners. The Marshall Plan was how it went about ensuring those allies continued to exist.

So you’re suggesting the Marshall Plan was a way to protect American business interests. That’s a far cry from “making American lives better”.

garion333 wrote:

I think you're confusing American history with human history.

I think you’re conflating American with “all humans”. Believe it or not, there are humans that aren’t American. There are even humans that don’t want to be Americans! (Also, the fact that Americans do or think something does not mean that’s how humans as a species must act or think.)

It's not a crackdown, it's a revolution! Of culture!

OG_slinger wrote:

Or it could be pulling a Putin and systematically going after any cultural entity that might rival the party itself.

This is what my money is on. See also Falun Dafa.

jdzappa wrote:

The last thing I'll leave with is this Seattle op-ed which sums up my feelings.

I bring this up because I think we all know by now that China is out to eclipse us as the world’s leading economy. And these video game rules tell me they’re convinced game addiction is real and that it rots young brains. I don’t know if they’re right, but I would hate to be in a situation where 20 years from now a generation of game-addled Americans ends up dragging down our economy while China unleashes a generation of emotionally-mature entrepreneurs to buy us out.

Americans are, of course, free to raise video addicts – that’s what makes us great – all I’m saying is that if you DO find yourself raising one, please do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t harm his or her future productivity. Because we all know who will be more than ready to fill the gap.

That article should be littered with "Citation Needed".

It assumes that there is some mystical number of hours played of videogames above which is "bad" and below which is "good".

It assumes that the Chinese approach leads to better equipped individuals than the American approach. One could just as easily argue that more leisure time leads to be better mental health, and thus it's the Americans who will be better prepared to compete in 20 years compared to their burnout, depressed, overworked Chinese counterparts.

I'm not sure how much of PRC's internal affairs are monitored by US media but there has been a huge culture war on foot there which has hit a new peak in recent times. Once you see the trend from the measures I identify below it starts to form a bigger picture that they're worried about how the digital behaviour and consumption is shaping their economy and society. They might see it as an existential threat to the political party or it might be a boomer reaction. It might be a mix of both.

Firstly, private education (think tuition companies that coach kids for examinations and accelerated learning) have been banned. This destroyed a multi-million service industry overnight. The official explanation is that kids should have a childhood but it might be due to the growing middle/upper class accumulating mass wealth and unequal wealth distribution. It might also be due to more educated masses being more difficult to control especially in lockdown environment with everyone spending more time online.

Secondly, select billionaires in tech and entertainment have been sanctioned. We're talking Jack Ma of Alibaba/Ant fame and Ma of Tencent. These are technocrats of Zuckerberg/Gates/Musk levels of wealth and power. On top of that, directors, actresses and actors / idols have been deleted from works for ideological conflict and they are cracking down on idol/celebrity culture in various ways such as banning ranking shows and websites. PRC has always had its own entertainment microcosm but it exploded after adapting to Korean K-pop and Japanese Jpop idol culture. The domestic industry expanded rapidly after national bans on Korean and Japanese groups touring and performing on the mainland so it's kind of like a side effect of the cross border culture war.

Given the gaming restrictions are contemporaneous with the reforms to pop culture and pay-per-user education in conjunction with crackdowns on financially successful business leaders and their companies, it starts to form an impression that they are trying to undermine the base of support that made those businesses powerful. My grandparents and parents were caught up in the Khmer Rouge genocide and push to create an agrarian society; I don't think it's hyperbole to describe these latest measures as an attempt to impose urgent social engineering in an effort to contain consumer and social patterns seen as a threat to the ruling party's control over the economy and the minds of the people.

More thoughts on this: my wife said the ban on private tuition services was explained as a removal of a barrier to having children i.e. apparently parents were delaying having kids unless they could pay for the best things in life.

But this doesn't address underlying problems such as housing affordability or lack of structural early childhood education (apparently kids cannot go to preschool/daycare until the age of 3).

If all of these reforms are really a reaction to the aging population problem then I'm not sure it's going to work.

Isn't eSports a thing and growing?

I'm not into maybe the popular games but I definitely have binged like 10 hrs of back2warcraft recently.

That said seems like a strange decision to steer kids away from video games from the previous article towards manly sports.

It would be so perfectly fitting for China to win some major sports event when the rest of the world stopped caring.

Chumpy_McChump wrote:
garion333 wrote:

I think you're confusing American history with human history.

I think you’re conflating American with “all humans”. Believe it or not, there are humans that aren’t American. There are even humans that don’t want to be Americans! (Also, the fact that Americans do or think something does not mean that’s how humans as a species must act or think.)

To be absolutely clear, I was attempting to point out that pretty much all history is humans taking from other humans and isn't some sort of American-made thing. If we're reducing history to it's most generalized form then this would be it. Families, clans, tribes, countries, ethnic groups, etc., all can be reduced to taking from others to enrich themselves.

Except Buddhists. They don't count.

I mean online games with toxic players, it really is the worst of gaming most times.

The only thing I really play is Rocket League, and that's on quick chat only. Before kids when I used to play MOBAs it was team chat only. I dabbled in Fortnite for a month or so a few years ago, and made it as quiet as possible. Only played Overwatch with goodjers. Aside from that I haven't touched a competitive FPS the last decade, since we all played TF2 and L4D2, but that was with private groups here, not the public. MMOs can be fun if you find a nice guild and stay off general chat but they are still mostly designed as skinner boxes.

And that segues into the worst of the pay to play/win games. Almost every online phone game is even worse. Basically little gambling machines with all the gacha stuff.

Yeah maybe limiting online games is a good idea for kids.

This article summarises some of the current changes occurring in China.

A major point that's not discussed here is the pending implosion of huge state owned corporations from bad debt. With bailouts likely it's possible they are robbing Peter (tech and entertainment) to pay Paul (lending/property sector).

A point my wife made - with the online gaming ban - an adult simply needs to make an account and let their teens use it. So it's not exactly effective albeit it is disruptive.

If these broader cultural reforms are intended to get young men off screens and more "masculine" in the hopes it will spur flagging birth rates, I seriously doubt it. That's such a misogynistic way of looking at low birth rates. Young men and women have supported unattainable celebrities and idols since mass media was developed; and I think both men and women are exercising their independence by choosing not to have children.

If the leadership isn't careful, once global borders reopen to migration it's possible they could experience an exodus of their young population seeking more cultural liberties overseas.

In the long list of things that is dooming America’s future video games is probably way way down the list. In fact the list is pretty short in terms of what actually bears the weight.

Bfgp wrote:

If these broader cultural reforms are intended to get young men off screens and more "masculine" in the hopes it will spur flagging birth rates, I seriously doubt it. That's such a misogynistic way of looking at low birth rates. Young men and women have supported unattainable celebrities and idols since mass media was developed; and I think both men and women are exercising their independence by choosing not to have children.

That's what always amazes me about these things. They relentlessly choose the most superficial not-actually-addressing-the-problem solution, often in a purely performative way.

Is the problem the expectations we have placed on young people for achievement and the grind-yourself-to-dust work culture we've created? No, it's that an 8-year-old is playing Fortnite too much with an avatar that has pink hair. Some pushups will fix it.