China is to release a set of new rules governing the vetting of online games content as part of a campaign to combat the potentially harmful influences they might have on the young, state media said.
Under new rules drawn up by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Information Industry to be released soon, games manufacturers will be required to redesign games that might lead to addiction.
The two ministries will also recommend to youngsters a number of healthy "premium games" endorsed by the government. These recommendations will be made in time for the summer vacation.
"Players of online games are mostly people under 35 years old," Zhang Xinjian, an official with the Ministry of Culture, was quoted as saying.
"These people are prone to the negative influences of sex, violence and other types of unhealthy content of online games."
The report quoted the example of a 13-year-old boy in Tianjin who leapt to his death from a 24-floor building. He was attempting to "fly" off the building. He had left a note saying that he was off to join three friends, all characters of an online game. The tragedy was reported by the Beijing Youth Daily last week.
The Ministry of Culture earlier this year banned 50 electronic games, including FIFA's Soccer 2005 and Microsoft's Age of Mythology, for what they deemed to be undesirable or inappropriate content.
China now has some 23 million online game players compared with 13.8 million in 2003.
China's Internet user population reached 94 million at the end of last year, and sales of online games in 2004 soared by 47.9 percent to net 2.47 billion yuan (US$298.44 million).
(Xinhua News Agency June 2, 2005)