In a show of commitment to the ongoing purge of what China considers as negative influences in its entertainment culture, 213 domestic gaming companies pledged to ban “inappropriate” content on their platforms on Thursday.
The rundown: The Sept. 23 pledge came in the form of a document called “Online Gaming Industry Anti-Addiction Self-Regulation Convention,” the South China Morning Post reported. While not legally binding, it serves as a reference point for the $45-billion industry moving forward.
- The companies — which included big players such as Tencent, NetEase and iQiyi — signed the document with the state-backed Chinese Gaming Industry Group Committee (CGIGC), according to Reuters. The CGIGC is affiliated with the National Press and Publication (NPPA), the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda arm.
- The self-regulation pact primarily supports the government’s latest actions to curb gaming addiction among minors. Beginning Sept. 1, anyone under 18 can only play from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, weekends and on public holidays, essentially limiting game time to just three hours per week.
- Aside from incorporating anti-addiction features within their games, the companies vowed to ban content depicting “sissy men,” “gay love” and “money worship,” as well as those deemed “politically harmful” or “historically nihilistic.” This follows restrictions for similar themes on film and TV, which fall in line with government efforts to promote “national rejuvenation.”
- While minors are under a video game curfew, because of a loophole, the rule only applies to playing games from local companies. They can still access titles from overseas platforms outside their curfew, according to Sixth Tone. “I wouldn’t be surprised if overseas gaming platforms like Steam eventually become unavailable in China,” Zhang Yi, chief executive officer of consultancy firm iResearch, told the outlet. “If (Chinese) minors use overseas gaming platforms, it will be unfair to the domestic game industry.”
- Charles Yu, who heads the Shanghai office of Pillar Legal, a boutique international law firm, sees a similar trend. However, he raised questions about what the document did not address. “If a Chinese game company has an overseas development team, is it restricted by it? If a Chinese company invests in an overseas development studio, will it be restricted by it?” Yu told the South China Morning Post.
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