China is one of the world’s biggest gaming markets and is home to major gaming companies like Tencent, but its regulators have also labeled online gaming “spiritual opium” and imposed tough restrictions as a mandate for the companies. prevent youth playing online games for more than three hours a week and making your games “nice, clean and safe.”
In the country’s latest move to restrict video game exposure and internet use among young people, China’s State Administration of Radio and Television and other agencies are ordering online streaming platforms to impose new age-based restrictions. Guidance published over the weekend (which caught our attention through Reuters) states that a newly mandated “Youth Mode” on major Chinese live streaming sites should prevent under-18s from tipping streamers or sending virtual gifts, and a 10pm curfew should be in place “to ensure enough rest for teenagers”.
The rules are similar to the rules already in place for services like WeChat, which Nikkei Asia reported last year has an identical juvenile curfew at 10pm and a tipping ban.
Home live streaming services will also have to prevent users under the age of 16 from becoming streamers and obtain parental consent before allowing older teens to stream. Customer service teams dedicated to youth issues will be needed for the companies in question, who have also been instructed to strengthen Internet literacy education regarding safety, security and conduct.
These measures are part of an ongoing campaign by the Chinese government to clean up the “chaos” it perceives to be growing between live streaming and video platforms. Affected platforms include Douyin (the name of TikTok in China), Kuaishou, Bilibili, Huya, and Douyu.
Last month, China approved its first batch of new video games in nearly a year after a freeze that was with intent to “reduce gaming addiction” and contain depiction of “obscene and violent content”, same-sex relationships and behaviors such as “money worship and effeminacy”.
That freeze had a big impact on big Chinese companies like Tencent and Bilibili, which were among dozens of companies that last September agreed to abide by the new rules going forward. Among those rules was the imposition of facial recognition technology to track the amount of time children spend in front of the screen.