With the number of Chinese internet users expected to increase rapidly over the coming years, the Chinese Ministry of Culture has announced that it is putting new regulations into place that will place stricter rules on online games, especially with regard to underage users.
The regulations, which will be put into effect on the first of August later this year, state that games targeting minors may no longer contain any content that is would be deemed to be in conflict with social norms or the law. Further “unwholesome” content in online games, such as pornography, violence, gambling and content relating to superstitions or cults, must be made inaccessible to users under the age of 18. Virtual items may no longer be bought with real money and minors will be banned from engaging in virtual online transactions in general. Finally, online games must include mechanics that limit the playing time of underage users in an attempt to prevent addiction.
The new regulations follow in a series of increasingly strict rules that limit access to online games or ban certain types of content. In the past, the Chinese government passed laws that prevent foreign entities from investing in Chinese operators of online games and enforced rulings that state that all online games must be approved by a regulating agency before being allowed to go public.
Since most gamers in China play online games from internet cafes, rather than their own homes, the new laws also state that users must register with their actual names, to help in identifying underage users. The new directives do not provide specific tools or guidelines on how operators of online games must achieve these goals before the first of August.