Moral anxiety around new forms of media is commonplace. In China, video games are the newest victims of government and parental displeasure, as they are believed to make players, especially children, restless, lazy and violent. The concern surrounding the addictiveness of these games and how they negatively impact the young gaming population in China, the majority of whom are school going children has prompted a strict governmental crackdown on the China digital gaming market.

China is the world’s largest video-games market, however, the government of China has put a strict restriction on online games to protect minors from harm, stemming from addiction and continuous visual strain.  This is not only a phenomenon in China, but countries such as South Korea and Japan have passed laws to regulate their respective digital gaming market despite being liberal democracies. The entry of Asian business models into the West has made European and American lawmakers look into their laws and policies more closely.


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Chinese authorities stopped approving new games in March 2018, which lasted for six months due to simultaneous government reshuffle. The government raised awareness around the growing incidence of myopia among minor and placed direct blame on the excessive time spent on video games. The government vowed to cap the amount of time spent and limit the number of new video games releases.

These latest crackdowns are a part of a broader campaign that aims to eliminate inappropriate online content, which includes everything from jokes on the government to games that reflect Chinese culture in poor light. Needless to point out, the Chinese digital gaming market has suffered a slowdown in revenue growth and a number of tech-start-ups have had to close down.  All games, either free or paid, need to obtain a license from the State Administration of Press and Publications, which was formed recently as a part of the Communist Party’s strategy to have a greater hold on the video game industry.

Key industry players are still trying to figure out what the future holds, and whether these regulations will mark a turning point for the industry. The biggest losers amid all these reconfigurations are the local game developing companies, who are struggling to obtain licenses and pay their employees.