China imposed gaming restrictions for children in 2021. The country reduced the online gaming time of teens under 18 to just three hours a week. These restrictions were aimed at cracking down on the gaming industry to keep youth in check from harmful habits like ‘addiction’. However, these measures didn’t turn out to be very effective in meeting their goals.
According to a study conducted by a group of computer scientists (spotted by IGN), the public responded to these restrictions with a phenomenon termed “regulatory escape”. The study is titled “No Evidence that Chinese Playtime Mandates Reduced Heavy Gaming in One Segment of the Video Games Industry” and was published in Nature Human Behaviour publication.
What the study reveals
As the name suggests, the paper has revealed that 7.04 billion hours of playtime were recorded by nearly 2.4 billion gamer profiles in China. The country has a population estimated at just over 1.4 billion and minors (below 18 years of age) weren’t allowed more than an hour of daily playtime. The study noted that this data was provided by the Unity engine’s maker Unity Technologies.
‘Loopholes’ in China’s gaming restrictions
The research suggests that minor gamers must have used some loopholes to bypass the restriction. This was the reason for such numbers to crop up. As per the study, minor gamers have used ID-sharing and VPN-enabled connections to create multiple accounts.
While players mostly did restrict themselves to less than an hour of daily playtime, the numbers that engaged in “heavy play” saw an overall increase, the report notes. In this case, heavy play refers to engaging in more than four hours of daily playtime, for as many as six days per week.
However, the study highlights that due to the anonymity of the data and the multiple methodologies used, it was hard to conclude if the numbers were driven only by adults, or minors. The report also suggests that China failed to reduce the total average daily gaming time of its public despite the regulations.
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