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Apr 14, 2007

Comments

1.

Forget a stone's throw--I'm from the Granite State.

And while I don't like the government telling people what to do on their time, I do think it is indicative of a growing problem in my generation.

Let me put it this way:

During my sophomore year of college, four kids dropped out because of their world of warcraft addictions.

It may not be the government's place to remedy that problem, but it damn well needs to be fixed.

2.

It's no surprise that a heavy-handed government like the PRC would attempt a solution like this. We'll see what actually develops, of course.

@ Petey: To say "It may not be the government's place to remedy that problem, but it damn well needs to be fixed" implies that some outside force needs to deal with problems that arise for a small minority who play. While it's tempting to connect opium-type addiction problems to MMO "addiction" problems, a better parallel is probably alcohol. A minority of alcohol users have "addiction" problems; various governments dicate various controls/limitations, many centering on age of user. (I can't resist considering alcohol and car driving, though, and the thought of a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driving_under_the_influence>DUI-like issue in the near future: Driving While MMOing, what with the coming of mobile platforms integrated into MMOs.)

But while MMOs are a powerful new element in societies, education around the issue is probably a better solution than some type of central government ordered restrictions.

Yet it is nice to see that even in the PRC, the scope has been scaled back some to focus on minors, at least.

3.

" Conspiracy is not a theory;it's a crime " B.Franklin .
As any other mass- phenomenon/communications/interactions tools and places ,the internet and the VW's are of a normal concern for any govt. As long as the VW's effects a significant role , it's a matter of politics. I want my govt to have a sort of control , and not only the Corporates having the full control and no responsabilities . At least, i could express my pov at elections, by voting.
Doing the same thing for hours, 7/7 ,it's a function of addiction , Pavlov would say. I dont trust myself anymore, in the matter of " moderation" , when i'm faced with the known - and often unknown - tools and means designed and promoted in VWs. I dont expect the makers/devs to remedy the problem - and yes there is a problem ; they wont ; their nr . 1 rule is : " take the money , and care less for consequences ".

4.

@ Tripp:

"But while MMOs are a powerful new element in societies, education around the issue is probably a better solution than some type of central government ordered restrictions."

Agreed. Although it does dishearten me to think that we are essentially proposing that, amidst proscriptions against drug use and alcohol abuse, schools need also admonish Internet addictions.

5.

In the early part of the 20th century, the US government decided that too many people were dying by drowning. Very few people, compared to today, knew how to swim. So, working with organizations like the YMCA and the Red Cross, they began a concerted effort, over 20 years, to teach both water safety issues (don't swim alone; what is a rip tide, etc.), and how to swim. It worked. My grandfather was one of the people recruited to "teach swim teachers" in YMCA's. Drowning deaths were reduced by something like 90% over two decades. But it took advertising, cooperative agency work, education and commitment from schools, parents and various clubs. Government programs can make a real difference and can change national attitudes and behaviors. Similarly, the US government also changed behavior related to auto accidents at railway crossings with an a multi-decade ad campaign and high-school driving safety classes. DUI deaths in the US are also down, after having risen for many years, partly attributed to government mandated training and advertising programs. Again... long-term programs, multi-agency, involving education, marketin and (often) training.

This, however, is a crock.

Let me as you, my gaming buddies. If you were playing one online game for, say, 4 hours a day, and some "thing" made you stop at 3... what would you do? Go outside and play? Or switch to a different game. Or maybe play a solo game for a bit.

It's bollocks. Pure bollocks. But, on the bright side, it's nice to see China engaging in the same kind of crap, feel-good, play-to-the-voters legislation that we usually get in the West. I see that as a mark of progress.

6.
Let me as you, my gaming buddies. If you were playing one online game for, say, 4 hours a day, and some "thing" made you stop at 3... what would you do? Go outside and play? Or switch to a different game. Or maybe play a solo game for a bit.

Well, it would be technically possible to enforce a maximum of 4 hours total across all regulated games. You just need the games to co-ordinate with a server that keeps track of the total time spent gaming by each national identity card number.

I would expect "identity theft" (using someone else's SSN to sign up) to become a major issue. There might also arise a RMT market for game-hours; suppose I don't play these games, but I'm willing to sell my 4 hours per day to someone who does.

7.

I have to say, I see the silver lining on this whole thing. A historically highly prohibitive government sees something which it identifies as a problem, and in a second iteration of litigation pursues a milder route that focuses on the health and well being of children rather than limiting the entire society. I'm not saying that this is a move that I endorse (far from it), but in the scheme of things it looks something like progress to me compared to other possible routes that China could be taking (Andy, I'm guessing that this is what you were getting at albeit with a healthy dose of highly appropriate sarcasm).

@Susan - I find your point about the potential for identity theft issues and RMT/game hour possibilities to be fascinating. If accounts are linked to identity, then a second account couldn't be utilized to play the same toons. Does this cause heavy use players to focus more on their guilds and less on their individual toons?

8.

Andy – China is also apparently organizing a Korean-style gaming tournament of unprecedented size, whose theme is “promoting healthy online gaming.”

There’s more to this than just addiction – which is complicated in and of itself. In addiction you’ve got to account for mental disorders, functionality (self-monitoring, self-regulation, etc), psychology and neuroscience, among other things. That said, addiction research is problematic for so many reasons in and of itself, to say nothing of games. Outside of games we’ve got addiction models which don’t reflect good treatment, and treatment centers making crazy money by using them. In games, study after study uses a criteria for addiction which was only barely acceptable when it was first used, over 10 years ago (before MMO games had even appeared).

Before we can even start to know what will help gamers, we need to first scrap a lot of these bad notions, and take a scientific and collective look at why people play too much. So will China’s move help?

On the one hand, that there are unique attributes to games which can keep people playing longer than is healthy. Everyone is different in how much gaming is healthy, so saying X hours is unhealthy won’t be universally correct. Still, games can (and often do) keep us playing past our limits, and that behavior can begin to build dependencies on specific chemicals in the brain. This then has adverse affects – social and physiological. Stopping people at 3 hours is an attempt at helping, but an attempt with a number of potential negatives – negatives for healthy gamers as well as unhealthy ones.

If the only time that I can enjoy a game is the weekend, I’ll want to play more than 3 hours, especially if I’m paying 15$/mo (or the Chinese equivalent). If I can’t do that, then I’m not going to pay for the game, a game which presumably provides a lucrative benefit to the gov’t through taxation. There are different ways in which healthy gamers will be punished for our lack of game addiction knowledge.

Conversely, an addict will find a way. Whether it is through RMT hour-buying (as was mentioned), offline single player gaming, or more freely sharing a guild’s resource of alts. I mean, think of how often you’d be switching out people’s alts inside of the old 40-man BWL/Naxx/AQ40 runs. It was a hassle, but it was common for the guilds that I was a part of.

This idea of addiction is complicated, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to understand. To really understand it, we will need to break it into its component parts, create a real reflective criterion for addiction to games (preferably at least separating single player, online and MMO), and then, ideally, we can continue to learn.

For just one example, with a good criterion for addiction we can test to see how many hours are played by addicts vs. non-addicts. With different experimental designs, it may be possible to determine a sound median number which represents a good time to cut off a gamer. Conversely, we may find that there is absolutely no relationship between hours played and health. Based on my research, I would expect a mix. Some people can budget out a large number of hours, but not let their play go out of balance. Others, for a variety of reasons, might lose control after playing a much lower number of hours.

9.

My sense is that this online game addiction act is part of a larger online strategy that China is implementing.

Some have noted (e.g. here) that with the original story (above) the registration of all online gamers is the most significant piece (apparently, while the time restrictions only apply to minors, everyone who plays has to register). As Raph points out (OP), as orwellian as it may seem - it can also be seen as a tool for reigning in some of the excesses that online anonymity has inflicted.

Also this action: 'Virtual cops' to weed out Internet gambling, porn. From China Economic Net.


By the end of June, the virtual cops will monitor all major portals and online forums across China, the ministry said.

Nine other ministerial level government departments and the MPS will take part in the campaign to weed out "harmful material and information" and "illicit activities" on the Internet, starting this month.

Online gambling, vulgarity and fraud are among the top priorities, the ministry said.

10.

nate> My sense is that this online game addiction act is part of a larger online strategy that China is implementing.

------------------------

To continue with the example, the QQ* fiasco involving a number of the same players, if anything, suggests (IMO) a great deal of interconnectedness in how the landscape needs to be viewed.

*Wall Street Journal
Officials Try to Crack Down
As Fake Online Currency
Is Traded for Real Money
By GEOFFREY A. FOWLER and JUYING QIN
March 30, 2007; Page B1

also (here).

11.

via Pacific Epoch:


Internet Cafes Offer Fatigue System Work-Arounds

Internet, Online Game, gaming
Posted by: Riki Hsu on Apr 23, 2007 | 17:04

Editorial Summary
Chinese Internet cafes are coming up with some creative solutions for getting around the recently launched online game fatigue system. Internet cafe recently began a promotion that offers an adult game account to underage gamers if they purchase monthly prepaid game cards, reports China Business. Another Internet cafe is recommending gamers open at least three game accounts so that they can play for longer. China's online game fatigue system will start formal operation on July 16. The system attempts to limit underage gamers to three hours of gaming per day by eliminating rewards for playing.

12.

Also from billsdue:

Shanda Selling Workaround To The Online Game Anti-addiction System

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