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How People Are Getting Around China's New Gaming Laws

China recently passed some new gaming laws and players are already finding loopholes in the system to exploit. According to a report from the state media outlet Xinhua (via South China Morning Post), The National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA), China's top watchdog responsible for monitoring most forms of online media, "has issued a new rule limiting the gaming time for players aged under 18 to between 8pm and 9pm only on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays." Under-age gamers will now only be allowed to play games for one hour a day and only on weekends, for a maximum of three hours a week, except on holidays. According to a government spokesperson Xinhua cited, "Many parents have said that the gaming addiction problem among teens and children has gravely affected their ability to learn and study as well as their physical and mental health, even causing a series of societal problems."

This isn't the first time the Chinese government has enforced a policy restricting gamers' screen time. It previously enacted rules to restrict kids to 90 minutes of gaming per day (three hours on holidays), which also banned playing after 10PM and limited micro-transaction spending. These new rules seem to be taking the restrictions to the next level. Some gamers have already found a workaround, however.

Gamers play account shuffle on Honor of Kings

"Honor of Kings" is a mobile multiplayer online battle arena game developed by TiMi Studio Group and published by Tencent Games. According to Statista, it's the most popular mobile gaming app in China and sees some of the highest numbers of daily users of any mobile game, having attracted a record-breaking 100.1 Million users in March 2020 and regularly ranking among the most popular mobile games in the world. So, it's no surprise that some gamers would want to find a way to circumvent the new rules in order to keep playing.

The Chinese government-owned paper People's Daily, reported back in September that Tencent games "sued over 20 account trading platforms and e-commerce platforms for trading and renting accounts of 'Honor of Kings.'" Developer Tencent implemented a real-name registration system in order to be in compliance with China's new rules, but apparently a game account trading industry has formed anyway, allowing players to 'rent' accounts for 33 yuan (USD $5.11) in order to get around the limitations a get a couple of extra hours of game-time.

Tencent has a reputation for taking this sort of thing seriously. After all, we're talking about the company that implemented facial recognition scanning in its games as part of a "Midnight Patrol" initiative to enforce China's "cybercurfew." Its eagerness to comply isn't completely unjustified either. The Chinese government's relationship with video games has always been tenuous. It has banned dozens of games and had a 15-year ban on gaming consoles. Tencent most likely just wants to keep its product available to consumers.