China has instituted new rules regarding internet gaming by minors – after three hours of gameplay, a message pops up suggesting that they stop and get some exercise. No word yet on whether Wii Tennis counts. After the three hour mark, kids only earn half-points in the games, until the fifth hour, when their points are wiped out completely. The three-hour limit is ostensibly based on the amount of time it takes to play a game of Go, a traditional board game.
Under the regulations, internet gaming companies have to install a program that requires users to login with their official ID numbers, allowing the program to distinguish the 16 year olds playing as young half-orc missionaries from the 45 year olds playing as teenaged dark elf rangers. Intended to promote a “healthy online culture,” these restrictions complement China's notorious internet censorship and surveillance programs.
The rules were promulgated by China's General Administration of Press and Publication, who commented that “measured gaming is good for the brain, but gaming addiction hurts the body.” Hurts the grades, too, I can vouch for that. World of Warcraft, with 3.5 million members in China, has already implemented the registration program, but doesn't expect to see a decline in gameplay, since most of its users are adults. Since the restrictions are based on a user's own input of his or her ID number, they can be circumvented by using borrowed or fake credentials.