A procedure to authenticate the names of those who play online games will go into effect on Friday to bolster a system specifically designed to prevent adolescents from becoming addicted to the Internet.
That procedure was adopted to prevent the young from overindulging in online gaming, Song Jianxin, a senior official with the General Administration of Press and Publication, told a news conference.
The new regulation, initiated by the administration and seven other government organs, will lead to the establishment of a national database that registers the names of all online gamers.
The Ministry of Public Security's national citizen identity information center will process the ID data gamers submit to play games online. Only an adult who has obtained a special ID card from the Ministry of Public Security, bearing both his name and ID numbers specific to him, will be given unhindered access to online games.
Those who cannot meet that requirement will be automatically directed to the anti-addiction system, which will make it more difficult for a gamer to do well in a particular game the longer he plays it.
Song said game operators were told of the new rules in early July. They will be given two months to test the procedures before the regulation formally takes effect on Oct 1.
In April 2007, China introduced an anti-addiction system that was to be attached to all online games. Gamers, though, found they could bypass it by making up the ID numbers needed to access online games. The new procedure requires them to both type an ID number and the name attached to it, which will have to match the records kept by the Ministry of Public Security before gamers will be considered to be adults.
Guo Yuanpeng, 13, said he spends about three hours a day playing online games during his summer vacations. Guo said he has sometimes used false ID numbers to gain access to them.
"It's pretty easy," he said. "I changed the figures in my ID card number every time before I played a game, and that let me stay online all the time."
By June, China was home to about 485 million Internet users, 27 percent of whom were younger than 19. By the same date, about 311 million of those users were playing online games, according to the latest report by China Internet Network Information Center.
Yu Yi, an analyst of domestic research company Analysys International, said more and more teenagers are taking to playing online games and the new procedure is a response to that trend.
Even so, he said he doubts the regulation will really make a difference because teenagers can always borrow the ID information of adults they know.
Hover Xiao, an analyst with the research company IDC, agreed. He said the system will prevent players from overindulging in online games to some extent, but that gaming addictions are social problems that are not likely to be solved by government regulations.