Tech giant Tencent rolls out new time limits for young Chinese gamers
On Tuesday, China's tech giant Tencent enforced a new limit on game time for young players of its hit mobile game "Honor of Kings" amidst ongoing complaints that hundreds of millions of children are becoming so addicted to the game that their mental and physical health has collectively suffered. Users under 12 will now be limited to just one hour of game time per day while players between the ages of 12 and 18 will be allowed to play for two hours per day. Any young player who stays online any longer will automatically be logged out.
"Honor of Kings" is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game with references to Chinese history and mythology.
The most popular format is the 5v5 fight, in which players can role play different characters and team up with their friends to destroy their enemy.
Launched in November of 2015, "Honor of Kings" quickly caught on and became one of the top MOBA games worldwide for mobile phones, with a record-breaking 200 million registered users and 50 million daily active players.
Tencent has not disclosed official revenue figures for this title yet, but analysts estimate that the game's first quarter revenue was 5.5 billion yuan (1 million) to 6 billion yuan, making it the world's top-grossing game.
Its popularity largely comes from an easy-to-master format, quick-paced action between players, a relatively fair and inclusive system and, most addictive of all, a seamless connection between online networking and real life.
By logging in with one's QQ or WeChat accounts, players can easily tell who else from their friends' list are playing, and thus discussions about the game often extends from the real world into the virtual world.
It is also common to see Chinese adults commuting on the subway take out their cellphones to play "Honor of Kings" now that the game has pervaded every facet of society.
"I have a lot of adult friends and colleagues playing this game. Very very constantly. When our boss passes by he always gets angry with them," said Abdi Sheikh from Australia, who works in Shanghai.
A representative of the "Honor of Kings" development team noted that the game itself was "supposed to bring joy, but excessive gaming brings joy to neither players nor their parents, therefore we want to take more strict measures."
Pesticide or honor?
"Honor of Kings" is especially popular with primary and middle school students, who are at an easily influenced age and often seen playing the game in class and after school.
"Some of my classmates play eight hours per day. They take a bite of a chocolate at lunchtime and continue playing the game," a 14-year-old middle school student surnamed Yan in Shanghai told the Global Times.
Yan, who often plays assassin characters in the game, said he spends one hour every day on the game and invests dozens of yuan on his account every month, which is a small investment compared with some of his peers who "lavish thousands of yuan on the lucky draw to unlock a character."
Such addictions to this game have also led to tragedy. On June 22, a 13-year-old student in Hangzhou jumped off the fourth floor of his apartment after being scolded by his father for playing this game.
He did not die but was injured. The first thing the student requested when he awoke in the hospital was his mobile phone so that he could log into the game, his father told media.
In April, a 17-year-old teenager in Guangzhou reportedly suffered from cerebral infarction after playing the game for 40 straight hours.
Because it is so easy to become addicted to "Honor of Kings," the game has been nicknamed "pesticide," which sounds similar to "honor" in Chinese.
A 12-year-old girl who preferred to remain anonymous told the Global Times that most of her classmates play this game, though she does not because her mother will not allow her.