China Limits Online Play

China Limits Online Play

The Chinese government has unveiled plans to limit hours of consecutive online play with surprisingly gamer-sensitive measures.

China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) has
explained the system by which it will discourage gamers from playing
online games for hours on end. Last month the Chinese government
announced plans to discourage gamers from taking part in long
online sessions and limit the ability of minors to play violent
games.
In something of a surprise move, the system
announced by GAPP is rather gamer friendly; at no point will it log out
players or limit their ability to communicate with their peers.
Instead, the system hopes to discourage long gaming sessions by
altering gameplay.

Players racking up more than three hours
consecutive play will find their character’s abilities and skills cut
in half, making progress in the game difficult. Passing five hours
consecutive play will further reduce character stats to the minimum
allowed in the game. Even after five hours, players will not be kicked
from the game and they will still be able to chat with
friends. The reduction in stats will prevent further progress
without taking a rest period from the game and player’s ability to
collect prizes and items will also be frustrated.

Logging out
and then back in again will not defeat the new measures, the GAPP
system keeping a careful record of play time. Only gamers who take a
five hour break from online gaming will see the system reset and
gameplay returning to normal.

"This timing mechanism can prevent
young people from becoming addicted to online games," Interfax China
reports Kou Xiaowei, Deputy Director of the Audiovisual and Internet
Publication Department of GAPP, stating at a press conference.

Seven
of China’s biggest online game publishers – Shanda, NetEase, The9,
Optisp, Kingsoft, SINA, and Sohu  - have already signed up to what
has being dubbed the Beijing Accord, pledging to "sacrifice short-term
revenues" in the interest of creating a healthy environment for gamers.

The
GAPP system is set to be completed by the end of September 2005 and
become compulsory in early 2006. Testing will begin in October with
trials held using the games The Legend of Mir II, The World of Legend,
Westward Journey Online, Fantasy Westward Journey Online, World of
Warcraft, MU, JX Online, First Myth Online, The Legend of Mir 3,
Lineage II and Blade Online.

The General Administration of Press
and Publication has defined less than three consecutive hours as
healthy, three to five hours play as tiring and playing for more than
five consecutive hours as unhealthy.