It hasn’t even been two days since Marion explained how World of Warcraft could teach us a thing or two on education, but the Chinese government apparently is not convinced of the benefits. Beginning April 15, gamers in China under the age of 18 will receive only half the normal “points” if they play for more than three hours in a day. National game companies have been given three months to implement the system fully. And there’s even talks of the regulation extending to any western games (such as World of Warcraft) played in China.
Kids can continue to play beyond the three hour mark but after five hours, points possible drop to 0 and the following message is displayed every 15 minutes:
“You have entered unhealthy game time, please go offline immediately to rest. If you do not, your health will be damaged and your points will be cut to zero.”
Ah, so governments intuitively know when kids’ “health will be damaged.” No matter how good the intentions, the whole concept makes me want to run out and organize a World of Warcraft party for kids that lasts for five hours and one minute. Of course, since I live in the U.S., it may come across as an oddity if I start rebelling against other governments’ laws which annoy me. In the end: not my country, not my problem, I suppose.
But still, it makes me reflect. Growing up, I participated in many a game party that lasted more than 3-5 hours. That’s not to say that I did so every day or every week even. It’s just that I already feel like I’ve been a pretty obvious exception to this new arbitrary rule. And I’m not addicted to games. Heck, nowadays, I’m lucky if I get 3-5 hours of gaming time in a month. But if I want it all in one day, no one (especially not a government) better stand in my way.
Oh, and let’s not forget that in order for all this to work, gamers in China above the age of 18 must verify their age by registering for games using their real names and identity card number. Great. Don’t get me started on the issues/implications associated with that requirement…