Beijing Blames Video Games Blamed By Beijing For Too Many Chinese Children Needing Glasses

China’s leader, Xi Jinping had recently said that he wants to do something about the fact that too many of Chinese children are needing wear glasses.

The result was wiping off of billions of dollars from the market value of the biggest video gaming company of the world.

Among the solutions recommended by Chinese authorities to reduce adolescent nearsightedness was new regulations and controls on online games. The announcement made last week resulted in the tumbling of the share price of the Japanese game makers such as Capcom, Konami and Bandai Namco. This indicated the importance and the size of the Chinese gaming market.

According to claims by the Chinese media, the grades of the Chinese young has gone down because of their addiction to video games. There was wide attention accorded to the incident of the death of a 17-year-old in the southern city of Guangzhou after the individual played a smartphone game for continuous 40 hours.

Distribution of video and online gaming has been one of the core businesses and reasons of success of the Chinese tech firm Tencent in recent years. The company has bought a number of game developers throughout the world which includes names such as the makers of League of Legends and Clash of Clans. There is also a stake owned by the company in the firm Epic Games – owner of the globally popular game Fortnite.

But in the last one year or so, the attempts by Beijing to guide Chinese culture has been a cause of concern for Tencent’, whose game business has been incredibly profitable.

Tencent’ developed battle game Honour of Kings was termed as a “poison” on the minds of the young by the Communist Party’s official mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, last year. Following this, Tencent was forced to implement limits to the amount of time a young Chinese could play the game for every day.

There was a 15 per cent drop in the shares of Tencent in Hong Kong. There were no comments from the company on the issue.

A news report published in the Chinese state controlled news agency Xinhua claimed last week that almost 50 per cent of Chinese are nearsighted and this news report reportedly induced Xi to act.

“The vision health of our country’s young people has always been of great concern to General Secretary Xi Jinping,” the news agency wrote, using one of Mr. Xi’s official titles.

And as a result, China’s media regulator was ordered by the Ministry of Education late last week to reduce the number of new video and online games being approved for distribution even though no specific capping number was mentioned. The regulator was also asked to take steps which can help to reduce the inclination of young Chinese to spend long hours playing games and to put a limit on the amount of time spent with video games for minors. It also asked the regulator to device a method of ascertain the age appropriateness of games.

The relationship between a digital display screen and myopia is still being investigated and debated globally.  When more time is spent by an individual in indoor activities such as reading, studying and focusing on screens compared to other show spent more time outdoors, the former can develop nearsightedness, claimed a report by the World Health Organization, citing research, in 2015.

(Adapted from NYTimes.com)

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