In a response to a question in the Indian Parliament’s lower house, Minister of State (Electronics and Information Technology) Rajeev Chandrasekhar, informed that the Indian government is not considering putting a limitation on the amount of time individuals spend playing games online.
Chandrasekhar confirmed that the policies of the government aimed to ensure “an Open, Safe, Trusted and Accountable Internet for its users,” and that it was aware of the risks and challenges that accompany online games, “including that of violence abetting video games, addiction to it, and consequential financial loss.”
He added that the new IT rules, which came into effect last year, obligated the intermediaries to “observe due diligence by making reasonable efforts to cause its user not to host, display, publish, transmit or share any information that is harmful to the child, causes incitement to the commission of any cognizable offense, relates to encourages gambling, or violates any law for the time being in force.”
This development thus marks a different approach taken by neighboring country China on the same issue. Last year, the Chinese government clamped down hard on gamers by mandating and enforcing strict measures in the country’s online gaming industry. Effective September 1, 2021, the new measures mandated that video game giants (such as Tencent) would limit the amount of time spent on online games to three hours per week in the case of minors.
To add to this, the Chinese government instructed gaming companies to enforce a real-name verification system as part of its efforts to combat gaming addiction. Addiction to playing online games is not a new issue, but it has developed and spread rapidly in the post-pandemic period. Its roots in recent years dating back to the pandemic, when people resorted to playing games as a means to combat boredom and inactivity during long periods of being confined to their homes.
This greater spending of time (and even resources like money) on gaming has carried forward to the post-pandemic era, where gamers – including youngsters – have shown a serious addiction to online gaming (as well as gambling), which often leads to these gamers (and their parents) facing financial losses. To add to this, concerns have been raised that prolonged exposure to online games comes with adverse effects – in terms of violence and a sedentary lifestyle, for example – as games such as PUBG: Mobile and its India rebrand turned out to be extremely popular among the Indian youth.
This development also follows an earlier report that said that the upcoming online gaming framework of regulations in India will be applicable to all real-money online games – that is, encompass games of skill and games of chance alike. They will have federal oversight as well.