Internet regulators are considering introducing a rating system for online games in a bid to protect youngsters from pornographic and violent images and becoming addicted to gaming, a senior cultural official told China Daily in an exclusive interview yesterday.
Liu Qiang, director of the Internet culture office under the Ministry of Culture (MOC) said: "The content of some online games, which is considered harmful to children and teenagers, might be okay for adults, so we have to build a system of standards."
The MOC currently uses two methods to stop pornography and excessive violence in computer games: By going through production copies of the games with developers before they are released to the market, and by granting approvals to foreign games only if they are considered proper to be imported.
"But online games are special: They are so interactive and are therefore always developing, which makes it difficult to regulate them," Liu said.
His comments were made in response to reports from around China that violence in online games triggers teenage delinquency, during a forum on Internet culture yesterday.
The forum was hosted by the MOC and Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.
Peng Gongmin, a senior police officer in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, told the press last month that Internet games were responsible for nearly one-third of all cases involving school students that were dealt with by police in the province last year.
"The number of cases triggered by Internet games has been on the rise for four or five years," Peng said.
"Games make the kids cruel and make them regard lives as toys."
Also last year, Beijing police cracked a dozen "online mafia gangs", after members of two of them, all teenagers, stabbed each other in the real world for rare "weapons" used in a popular online game.
Shen Qiyun, a professor at Beijing Normal University, said at the forum that China has a higher percentage of child and teenage netizens than any other country in the world.
Cao Shumin, vice-president of the telecommunications research institute under the Ministry of Information Industry said at yesterday's forum that latest figures show China has 140 million Internet users, 3 million more than it had at the beginning of the year, and the second highest of any country in the world.
A report published in December by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China showed that 15 percent of netizens were under 18.
(China Daily May 24, 2007)