China Bans Video Games - An Addiction Psychiatrist's Perspective



China Bans Video Games – An Addiction Psychiatrist’s Perspective

China Bans Video Games – An Addiction Psychiatrist’s Perspective

On November 6, 2019, the Chinese government announced 6 major restrictions on gaming. If China bans video games, then we can interpret that as a signal something serious has gone awry. China is the largest gaming market in the world, about $500M annually and – until just recently – projected to keep growing. China is home to the largest gaming companies and recently hosted the largest esports event in the world, The International 2019, with a $34M prize pool.

Even then, China is blaming video games for two things: near-sightedness and drops in academic performance.

The Chinese Video Game Ban Includes 6 Restrictions

The language in the six restrictions focus on time and money spent on games, force industry compliance, and emphasize “guardian” responsibilities. In essence:

  • Real-name registration system for online game accounts
  • Time limit of 90 minutes per weekday and 3 hours on the weekends
  • Curfew 10pm – 9am
  • Monthly spending limits depending on the age
  • Gaming industry required to monitor gaming behavior and comply
  • Gaming industry and parents to monitor for content

Our Take On The China Video Game Ban

Video games evolve fast, much faster than good science, good medicine, or good policy have time for. These types of takeaway approaches are because of an absence of good data. So while China bans video games, we would want to focus on the root causes of gaming.

“To take on video games, you have to understand them better. We need more data, and we need better, unbiased data. Just restricting doesn’t work. You have to understand and support the people playing the video games.” says Dr. Alok Kanojia, the world expert in video game psychiatry.

Here’s what the data tells us about video games and video game addiction.

  • Gamers are smarter on average [link]
  • Video games rewire our dopamine circuitry [link]
  • Video games create a sense of identity and community [link]

To really get to the root of video games, and their impact on children, we want parents to understand how to support gamers. This fixation on simply taking games away misses the point entirely.

WHY do children play video games? WHAT about video games make them so addictive?

We would like to see policy that focuses on filling the needs that video games fill (intellectual stimulation, accomplishment, community), and regulating predatory psychological practices used in games designed for minors.

Related: Does My Child Play Too Many Video Games?



Chinese Government Statement

Dr. Alok Kanojia, cofounder & Harvard-trained addiction psychiatrist

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