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China's Decision To Restrict Gaming

When China became a dominant power in the post-Soviet world, it challenged the world dominated by the United States. In twenty years, China became one of the largest economies in the world. Its hegemony is beginning to rise on the world stage which is upsetting the world's major powers. The one area China is dominating right now is online gaming.

China's gaming market cost nearly $100 billion as of 2018 and most people regard China's market as the capital of the gaming industry. China is home to some of the largest gaming companies like Tencent and Mihiyo while it also made its mark in the esports department.

China has the largest online user base in the world. Two-thirds of its 457 million internet users are engaged in online gaming. The average demographic of gamers is 18 to 30 years old, 73% of the gamers are male whereas 27% are female. Their rise in the industry is now upsetting the American, South Korean, and Japanese markets.

The rise isn't however with its hiccups. For starters, China's massive surveillance system is highly been criticized. Many critics believe that it could encroach on the rights of its citizens. However, the is probably a restriction on the gaming hours for children below 18.

China's Law: Paper Tiger Rights

Officially the Chinese Constitution gives Fundamental Rights to its citizens. Every citizen has a:
  • Right to vote for everyone above eighteen years
  • They also have the right of contesting elections.
  • They believe in Free speech and expression.
  • Everyone has the freedom to form associations and public meetings like strikes.
  • People have preservation to protect the family. They are also protected against illegal detention.
  • The people have cultural and education rights.
  • Every man and woman are recognized equally.
     

However, these rights only exist on paper. China's human rights record doesn't meet the criteria of its constitution. Their treatment of the Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang Region is widely criticized by the Western media. Their rights to freedom of religion are severely suppressed. Reports say that millions of Uighur Muslims are imprisoned in the Chinese internment camps. Its massive censorship and the attacks on its critics are other red flags raised by the West.

The mass suppression of the Hong Kong Protest became an international situation. China like other authoritarian regimes also clamp down on people of the LGBT+ community. Its death sentences and executions are kept secret. The examples mentioned above show that China's actions are far different than what is mentioned in the constitution.

American Companies: Not the believer of human rights

The Chinese government aims to control its citizens which is not only draconian but it wants to bring its people under the impression the government's actions are in the national interest. What is more appalling is that American companies are working in unison with the Chinese Government. It is very hypocritical for the American conglomerates to preach democracy and human rights while working with a government that represents everything contrary to what the former believes.

The biggest example of this was the Blitzchung Controversy. At the height of the Hong Kong Protest, a Hearthstone player Blitzchung voiced out in favor of the protestors. Hearthstone's publisher Blizzard banned him and the announcers to appease the Chinese political masters.

The decision was received with a universally negative reception with many people condemning the decision as appeasement of China. Even the United States Congress voiced out against such a decision. Blizzard threw in the towel and was forced to revert its decision but the damage was already done.

Another example of American companies disregarding human rights is Disney. In 2020, Disney came under hot water during the Mulan Remake movie controversies. Many people criticized Disney for firing James Gunn, an acclaimed director for his dark humor jokes which were a decade ago while not lifting a finger on its main star when she spoke in favor of the police brutality during the Hong Kong Protest.

At the same time, when the Chinese government imprisoned millions of Uighur Muslims in their concentration camps, Disney decided to shoot their movie in the Xinjiang region which is the place of the Uighurs. Some of the movie sets were near the concentration camps. Many people were quick to point out Disney on this and they responded in a rather corporate manner.

These two examples show that American companies would never practice what they preach. In Blizzard's case, they were talking about equality and human rights at the height of the Geroge Floyd Protests while banning a player from doing the same thing.

China's decision to restrict online gaming

Last year, China decided to restrict the online gaming of children for 90 minutes a week. According to the government, they want to decrease the cases of video game addiction. They claim that it could affect the health of minors, especially with the new semesters beginning in schools. The government believes that online gaming is either "spiritual opium" or "electronic opium".

While some say it's a means to deal with video game addiction. Parents believe that the policies could fight against video game addictions, affecting their studies, physical, and mental health. Others say that it is China's new group in the crackdown. Private enterprises are severely hit by this crackdown. Many people believe that it will create a setback in the industry. The markets would receive negative sentiments and the number of investors would decrease.

The Chinese social media are livid against the policy. Many complained that the policy is too strict. One reason on Weibo states that the policy presumes that gaming is bad. Another person states it could ruin the chances in competitive gaming.

One Forbes article states that restricting gaming hours would be a bad move for the Chinese state. It mentioned five reasons:
  • It creates enthusiasm towards STEM subjects.
  • An Oxford Internet Institute does not find any nexus between screen time and wellbeing.
  • Who could define gaming at this point.
  • Many parents couldn't qualify to make a clinical diagnosis.
  • Why the Chinese authorities didn't take any action against board games.

The Forbes article stated that parents constant policing of a child could break down the communication with their children elephant in the room. A child would be reluctant to tell anything their parents when things are too difficult for them. They are afraid that they would lose their technological facilities

Conclusion
Video game addiction is a problem in general. Many people simply spend their time playing video games without doing anything which could affect their relationship with friends and family members. With the rise of the hikikomori culture all over the world, many people are forced to stay in their homes and play video games.

On the other hand, video games can be a good thing too. It could provide a coping mechanism to students who go through severe bullying or academic decline. People have a negative opinion of video games just because of a misconception that people won't achieve anything through playing video games. PUBG competition in India states otherwise, it has changed the shape of gaming in India.

Unfortunately, China is restricting gaming for children just because they believe it is an "opium". Many users in the Chinese social media are frustrated that they could lose the opportunity to shine in the gaming industry just because they lose their hours by the government policy.

It could also affect the Chinese Gaming industry as well. The shares of Tencent have significantly dropped because of the reduced hours. It is earnestly hoped that China would revert its policy which could not only raise the morale of children but also the industry itself.

References:
  • 5 Reasons Copying China's Gaming Ban Would Harm Children (https://www.forbes.com/sites/andyrobertson/2021/09/10/5-reasons-copying-chinas-gaming-ban-would-harm-children/?sh=e14b3f015f6e)
  • Restrictions on online freedom of expression in China (https://www.chathamhouse.org/2021/03/restrictions-online-freedom-expression-china/chinas-domestic-restrictions-online-freedom)
  • China's Surveillance State Has Killed Privacy (https://www.dailysignal.com/2021/10/28/chinas-surveillance-state-has-killed-privacy/)
  • China bans kids from playing online video games during the week (https://edition.cnn.com/2021/08/31/tech/china-ban-video-games-minor-intl-hnk/index.html)
  • Chinese constitution: Features, Comparison with Indian + other constitutions (https://www.civilsdaily.com/chinese-constitution-features-comparison-with-indian-other-constitutions/#:~:text=The%20Chinese%20constitution%20explicitly%20prescribes%20certain%20duties%20of,by%20the%20Constitution%20and%20all%20other%20state%20laws.)
  • I Think China Doesn't Like Gamers...
  • CHINA 2021 (https://www.amnesty.org/en/location/asia-and-the-pacific/east-asia/china/report-china/)
  • Opinion: Why Am I Disillusioned With Internet Edgy And Woke Culture (https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2021/03/why-am-i-disillusioned-with-the-current-woke-and-edgy-culture/)
  • Metal Gear Solid: Learning Lessons Of War From Video Games (https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2021/03/metal-gear-solid-the-lessons-of-war/)

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