Chinese can’t play for long, at least not on-line

Recently there have been a few stories about people suffering damage due to excessive on-line gaming. Some idiots staying in their rooms for days playing non-stop, not taking care of themselves.

These stories get headlines, because as we all know the news media is always looking for sensations, and this is the kind of news that sells. Sad, but true.

It is, however, an incredibly small and irrelevant problem. The amount of people actually getting hurt, or dying, due to excessive gaming is very small. It just seems bigger because we’re used to just a fraction of events being on the news, while in this case every single instance gets the headlines. Plenty of other addictions are far worse, and far more damaging. Heck, plenty of other addictions actually exist in more than a score of rare and isolated cases.

So what most people do is shrug in wonderment of the idiots involved, and go on with their lives ignoring this phenomenon. Because it’s obvious it’s not really a phenomenon.

The Chinese , however, apparently think otherwise, and see this as a real problem, requiring real treatment:

Online computer gamers in China will be penalized for playing their favorite game for more than three hours at a time, as part of a plan to prevent young people from becoming addicted to fighting dragons and warlords in cyberspace.

Players that spend more than three hours online at a time will lose experience points and weapons in the cyber world.

Once a player has played for more than five consecutive hours, the system cuts the ability level of that player’s character to the lowest level allowed by the game, often zero.

Players must take a two hour break before logging into the game again to avoid being penalized.

Totally and completely crazy. In order to solve a non-problem, they’re interfering with the gameplay of nearly every single playing of on-line games in the entire country. Personally I don’t play these kinds of games, but I do occasionally play some computer games, and can easily see how annoying and distracting such limitations are.

On the other hand, the Chinese authorities are limiting Internet access in various forms for quite a long time, so I guess the idea came naturally to them.

The few quotes in the article from players seem to indicate they think it’s stupid as well, and some plan to try and trick the system. Which would be a pretty natural reaction, though I do doubt if it’s as safe to do it in China as it would be here.

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