China issues new video game rating system

Zhang Long
A new video game rating system was introduced at the Chinese Games Industry Annual Conference in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province.
Zhang Long

We've all heard about dismayed parents frustrated by their children spending hours on end playing video games, or charging thousands of yuan to their online game accounts without telling their parents.

With the country’s new age-based online game rating system entering its pilot phase, concerned parents are expected to be able to stop worrying about whether or not the games their children play are appropriate for their age.

The new video game rating system was introduced at the Chinese Games Industry Annual Conference in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. The rating system is under the guidance of China’s National Press and Publication Administration, and was co-drafted by 53 gaming and technology companies — including industry giants Tencent Games and Netease.

The new standard divides video games into three age categories: 8, 12, and 16, represented by labels in the colors green, blue and yellow respectively. Labels must be prominently displayed on the game’s website, registration page, login screen, charging site, promotional videos and advertisements.

China issues new video game rating system

Labels for age-based categories

“The introduction of the new standards are meant to provide positive guidance to underage consumers while also protecting them.” said Zhang Yijun, the first deputy chairman of the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association.

China already has some of the strictest gaming regulations in the world. The gaming industry's current common practice is an anti-addiction system, including real-name registration, so minors have a limited amount of time each day to access a game (normally one hour for children under 12 and two hours for those 12 and above), and a limited amount of money to charge to their accounts. For general users, healthy gaming advice is mandatory on the login screen.


China issues new video game rating system

Underage players will be forced to log out of a game when the anti-addiction system is triggered.

China issues new video game rating system

Healthy gaming advice that pops up on a game's login screen recommending gamers consume content reasonably. 

To prevent underage users from charging too much money to their accounts, Tencent Games upgraded their anti-addiction system this month, implementing a new facial recognition system that freezes accounts when monthly charges exceed 1,000 yuan (US$153). The system is necessary because some children have used their grandparents’ cellphones to register or charge their accounts. 

According to officials at Tencent Games, 10.5 million underage users trigger the company's anti-addiction system daily, and 3.5 million trigger the facial recognition system.

China issues new video game rating system

Two elementary school students play mobile games between classes. Mobile games were the main source of entertainment for almost 70 percent of China's 169 million underage Internet users in 2018.

“For game companies, the new standards minimize the risk of developing content that could be harmful to minors, and it will surely help the game industry evolve more wholesomely while facilitating its standardization,” Zhang said.


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