Is Gaming the Spiritual Opium of the Metaverse?

As early as 2021 China is even regulating the future of gaming with sophisticated facial recognition locks on access by age and how much a gamer has played. A bit of state news media coverage of the detrimental impacts of gaming on young people calling gaming “spiritual opium” was enough to cause a scare at Tencent, and China’s gaming sector.

Even a retracted story sent Tencent, NetEase into a plunge of more than 10 per cent in Hong Kong, CMGE Technology lost 20 per cent in mainland. The Chinese State uses it media outlets as a form of regulation.

Gaming is certainly the spiritual opium for the masses as companies like ByteDance well understand, however outside of China it’s unlikely to be regulated in quite the same way.

As China actively regulates gaming consumption, how many hours will be lost to gaming in the future of productivity in the countries that compete with China?

The report from Xinhua-affiliated Economic Information Daily marked a strong attack on the country’s gaming industry and its leading player. It was so effective the story was retracted and still did its job. That’s pretty scary efficiency of China’s State regulatory efforts on what it views as abuses of technology on people and consumer protection.

Microsoft’s push into gaming and Sony’s dominance also assumes that gaming is an essential part of the entertainment metaverse.

In retaliation to the story, The China Game Publishers Association Publications Committee said games are not ‘fierce floods or savage beasts’ and that they can benefit society. China’s news cycle is almost more entertaining to watch today than the U.S’s which appears somewhat scripted and not entirely objective. So media as a whole aren’t really providing much insight, even though the New York Times does pretend that it does.

So how might China view gaming as bad for youth? “No industry or competitive skill should be developed through the destruction of an entire generation,” the article said, adding that regulators should step up its investigations and punish wayward publishers.

Hours after the article was published, it was removed from the newspaper’s website, as it did not reflect the Chinese government’s stance, according to a source familiar with the matter.

With the pandemic and remote work, gaming has substantially increased its hold on entertainment and dopamine addicted consumers all around the world. This means gaming has a bright future, even as we work at home, we’re simply gaming more as a society.

Any kind of regulatory impact on gaming outside of China has barely been mentioned or covered. The adverse impact of gaming on family or work relationships has also not been mentioned. It makes you wonder if gaming is part of China’s future weaponization of the metaverse against its rivals? Stranger things have happened, when you realize part ofTikTok’s massive AI advantage is the use of facial recognition to drive its recommendation engine to levels not seen in an app since YouTube.

It’s quite likely Tencent and ByteDance will one day easily rival Sony and Microsoft in the future of gaming.

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