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Adults Exempt from Online Playing Limits

Faced by a flood of protests from adults, China plans to modify its anti-addiction online game policy with time limits directed at youth. The decision, exempting adults from time limits, was announced yesterday in Beijing.

The current system went into effect in October. After five hours of consecutive playing, it does not give players -- minors or adults -- any experience points or virtual weapons, discouraging them from playing.

Adults were outraged. The new selective system will only target those under 18, letting adults play on.

The planned changes were announced at a conference in Beijing by the General Administration of Press and Publications.

A timetable for the new system was not given.

It will require some 26 million online game players to register with their real names and identification card numbers, said Kou Xiaowei, a GAPP official in charge of game publication.

Depending on the identity card number, which indicates the user's age, those under 18 will be directed to games with the anti-addiction system of time limits.

"We have heard the complaints from adult players and we think they should not be subject to time limits on Internet games," said Kou.

In October, China launched the current system in the 11 most popular online games, such as "The Legend of Mir II," "Westward Journey Online," "Fantasy Westward Journey Online," and "The World of Warcraft."

GAPP expects the new system to cover all Chinese online games by the end of this year.

To avoid the time limit, minors often use different account names or switch to another online game when they reach the limit.

The improved system will also allow parents to monitor their children's account usage. And game firms will delete account registrations with fake identity information.

(Shanghai Daily January 14, 2006)

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