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China restricts under-18 game content

Maximum game time and virtual currency also limited in new regulations

New regulations issued by the Chinese Ministry of Culture are to force online operators to protect players under the age of 18 from "unwholesome" content and the misuse of virtual currency.

As described by the Xinhua News Agency, the regulations become law from August 1 and require publishers to remove any content which might lead to the "imitation of behaviour that violates social morals and the law.”

The new regulations attempt to prohibit any content which could be seen as horrifying, cruel or "unwholesome". Although many of the definitions appear vague "pornography, cults, superstitions, gambling and violence" are specifically forbidden.

The Ministry of Culture is also attempting to limit the maximum length of time minors (defined in China as anyone under the age of 18) spend online in a game, although again no specifics are mentioned.

The question of automatically limiting game time has been raised a number of times in China, with previous attempts dating back to at least 2005.

Finally, the new regulations prohibit minors from buying or selling any items with virtual currency, although they will be allowed to use virtual currency for in-game products and services.

The latter regulations in particular will be made possible by laws introduced last year which require players to register for games with their real names and identity card details.

According to a Bloomberg report the impending regulations have already seen a fall in market value for China's biggest Internet company.

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