Revel­ing in its grandeur

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS -

Ten­cent Games has an­nounced that its most pop­u­lar mo­bile game, King of Glory, will au­to­mat­i­cally log out play­ers be­low 12 af­ter an hour, spark­ing a de­bate on how best to reg­u­late on­line games that has 36 mil­lion play­ers be­low the age of 17 in China. Three ex­perts share their views with China Daily’s Wu Zheyu on the is­sue. Ex­cerpts fol­low:

A 13-year-old boy jumped from the win­dow of a fourth-floor apart­ment in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince, on June 22 af­ter his father scolded him for be­ing ob­sessed with on­line games. Me­dia out­lets have even re­ported that some chil­dren have used their par­ents’ bankcards to pur­chase on­line games and game equip­ment.

Chil­dren have be­come on­line game ad­dicts partly due to le­nient par­ents, some of whom even en­cour­age their kids to play such games so that they can en­joy some “free” time. So blam­ing game com­pa­nies alone for chil­dren’s ad­dic­tion is not fair.

Also, to­tally ban­ning kids from on­line games might have other se­ri­ous con­se­quences. As me­dia re­ports sug­gest, King of Glory has be­come a new chan­nel of so­cial in­ter­ac­tion for chil­dren, es­pe­cially be­cause it is a mul­ti­party game. As such, chil­dren no fa­mil­iar with King of Glory will feel lost when their class­mates dis­cuss the game.

To pre­vent chil­dren from be­com­ing on­line game ad­dicts, par­ents have to shoul­der the ma­jor re­spon­si­bil­ity. And the au­thor­i­ties must take mea­sures to en­sure the game com­pa­nies ful­fill

their cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity. Mak­ing the game provider set a time limit for play­ers be­low 12 is a good start. But more reg­u­la­tions and tech­ni­cal means are needed to en­sure the health of the chil­dren and game providers both.

An in­creas­ing num­ber of chil­dren have been us­ing their par­ents’ bankcards with­out au­tho­riza­tion to buy on­line game equip­ment. Lawyers fa­mil­iar with such cases say two big ob­sta­cles pre­vent the par­ents from get­ting the money back.

First the par­ents can­not gather enough ev­i­dence to prove that a mi­nor, not the card­holder, made the pay­ment. And sec­ond, a for­mal com­plaint needs to be made in per­son to the con­sumers’ as­so­ci­a­tion or lo­cal cul­tural ad­min­is­tra­tion de­part­ment in the area where the game provider is reg­is­tered to get a proper response, which usu­ally calls for a lot of ef­forts, es­pe­cially if the com­plainant doesn’t live there.

Ten­cent has lim­ited the play­ing time for chil­dren aged be­low 12, but there is no le­gal ba­sis be­hind the de­ci­sion. The Gen­eral Rules of Civil Law views chil­dren aged 8 or be­low as not hav­ing the ca­pac­ity to con­duct civil ac­tiv­i­ties, and thus the pay­ments they make can be con­sid­ered in­valid. It also views a child aged be­tween 8 and 18 as a per­son with lim­ited dis­pos­ing ca­pac­ity, that is, any con­tract they are in­volved in will be valid only af­ter their le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tives con­firm it. If the on­line game providers can de­sign a clas­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tem that con­forms to the civil law, it would be eas­ier to re­solve the dis­putes over money.

King of Glory has more than 200 mil­lion reg­is­tered play­ers in China, with women ac­count­ing for 54.1 per­cent of the to­tal. Play­ers aged be­low 14 ac­count for 3.5 per­cent and those be­tween 15 and 19 add up to 22.2 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to data an­a­lyt­ics com­pany

The game has be­come so pop­u­lar be­cause of sev­eral fac­tors. Ten­cent’s user com­mu­nity is huge thanks to its pre­vi­ous suc­cess­ful prod­ucts such as QQ and WeChat, which pro­vided the game a wide plat­form for pro­mo­tion. More­over, be­ing a mul­ti­party mo­bile game, King of Glory en­joys wider ac­cep­tance than most web-based games, be­cause a per­son can play it any­where, any­time.

And since King of Glory has a slower rate of at­tri­tion com­pared with other games and the num­ber of its reg­is­tered play­ers has al­ready peaked, Ten­cent won’t lose its com­pet­i­tive­ness by curb­ing the play­ing time for chil­dren be­low 12. In fact, it could gain in rep­u­ta­tion as a con­sci­en­tious game com­pany.

The real loop­hole is the rather loose ID reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem for the game, which many ju­ve­niles can nav­i­gate through. So in­stead of try­ing to “of­fi­cially” limit the play­ing time for chil­dren be­low 12, the par­ents and the gam­ing com­pany should ed­u­cate them about the pit­falls of on­line game ad­dic­tion in or­der to pre­vent them from spend­ing ex­ces­sive time on King of Glory.


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