China Daily is reporting that the official Chinese crackdown on extended gaming sessions by teenage users has begun. The concept is one that many hope never reaches the level of government regulation in the United States. Specifically, users under 18 are allowed to play online as long as they wish. However, after 3 hours of play, any points earned (i.e. experience points in RPGs) are cut in half. After 5 hours of play, no points are earned at all.
How is this system enforced? Game companies are required to integrate a uniform Chinese ID into their system. It would be the equivalent of a game company requiring your Driver’s License number to register to play. The game company can then know your age and limit you if necessary.
Of course, there is always the potential for fraud, such as a kid using a parent’s ID number. Pacific Epoch is reporting that The9 (the Chinese provider for World of Warcraft) will have a tool that allows parents to see if their IDs are being used. While this is certainly something, it seems like the system will never likely be perfect, short of requiring biometrics or something similarly difficult to circumvent.
While I can see the value of limiting a child’s play time, the role of acting as the limiter will hopefully remain with the parents in the United States. There is no reason to appoint the government as a pseudo-parent for issues such as these that are so easily manageable by the parents themselves. However, software companies may see a benefit to incorporating a system that the parent can enforce in countries like the US. However, no technology can ever truly take the place of simple presence. Children can inevitably find ways around most technological or other barriers, but they can’t get around a responsible parent.
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