Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Why China’s ‘Olive Tree for Better Skills’ Is Losing Steam Online

A decade ago, I was one of many people in China who bought the video game World of Warcraft. I played it and enjoyed it for many hours — but, after finding the perfect combo of characters to complete the game, I decided that it wasn’t for me. I moved on, spending my time playing other games. Yet even though this made sense to me, I still bought the game my husband — a more hardcore gamer — bought. And, knowing it was not a desirable player, he bought it anyway.

An estimated 75 percent of Chinese gamers are over 30 years old. But in an effort to tame this population of digital addicts, Chinese regulators are putting new limits on the amount of time they are allowed to play these games. A few months ago, the state-run China Central Television (CCTV) (the country’s highest-rated commercial broadcaster) announced that it had released a list of 100 “games that have caused harm to Chinese society.” Compulsory game surrender, as it is called, requires gamers to log in to the portal associated with a game once a week. The number of hours that players can spend on these games is also limited.

In response to these measures, gamers have written in to Sina News in outrage. “Do you really think that people, who have hours and hours of spare time available for use in short bursts, need 12 hours a week to play games?” wrote one user, who identified himself as Hu Jinzhu, a 28-year-old IT professional from Beijing.

Some are taking to the streets, protesting the new rules. Some are encouraging users to quit their jobs to help fight the limits. One group called “Olive Tree for Better Skills” has published a petition that is online now, asking all users to demand the games be reclassified and end the “crushing and coercive” game surrender policies.

See also: Can the World of Warcraft Restart Its Growth?

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