China cracks down on youth gaming

Marketplace Staff Feb 20, 2008


Scott Jagow: China always seems to be “cracking down” on something. Today, it’s Internet cafes where kids play online games like World of Warcraft. The Chinese government says kids aren’t supposed to be at these places, and that the games are breeding juvenile crime. Bill Marcus has more from Shanghai.

Bill Marcus: It’s four in the afternoon, and ordinarily shy boys crowd around a computer screen in a smoky Internet Cafe. They’ve transformed themselves into kings, warriors and soldiers, armed and dangerous and lost in a fantasy world.

National law requires customers to be 18 or older, but the college-age girl behind the counter has let in a number of gamers who are clearly younger, including this 15-year-old:

Yu (voice of interpreter): I play every day around seven to eight hours and I enjoy it. I should have been doing my homework, but I feel bored so I’m here.

China hopes to prevent underage gaming with random sweeps of the roughly 30,000 Internet cafes nationwide.

Internet analyst David Wolf:

David Wolf: These controls will affect Internet cafes in the short run. I think it’s going to hurt business.

That is, if the government is serious.

But Internet cafes may soon be the least of China’s worries. In the next few years, interactive games will likely be available on the cell phones that almost half of China’s 1.3 billion people now own.

In Shanghai, I’m Bill Marcus for Marketplace.

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