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Daily Digest | Tencent quakes on state media takes

Written by The Uptake Published on   2 mins read

Chinese state media labels video games as “spiritual opium.”

Hey there. It’s Brady.

I recall playing Tetris and Super Mario Land on my Game Boy, Street Fighter and Sonic on my friends’ consoles, and Doom on my family’s first computer. Video games were a part of my childhood, and they’re still something that I return to every now and then.

Parents typically determine how young children play games—the titles, the amount of time spent mashing buttons in front of a screen to make pixels do things. When Chinese state media labeled video games as “spiritual opium” in an article that was quickly retracted then reposted in the evening with softer language, I wondered, not too seriously, am I an addict?

Game design has made leaps and bounds since my days of piecing Alexey Pajitnov’s building blocks into snugly fitting rows, and I do believe that some video games, especially casual mobile games, are designed to keep players glued to their graphics, rewards meted out every step of the way for continual endorphin blasts. Internet and game addiction are real.

Tencent responded to the article quickly—and drastically. It called on the entire industry to prohibit children under the age of 12 from accessing video games. Maybe it’s just theater, playing along with a poorly written op-ed, but Tencent’s statement made me wonder how regulators and video game companies in China think about the role of parents and guardians in a child’s upbringing.

Anyway, here’s a stat that illustrates confidence in Tencent at the moment: its stock price reached a peak in January, when the company edged near USD 1 trillion market cap, but its current price point is more than 40% below that mark. This isn’t just about video games. It’s also about smackdowns due to Tencent’s aggressive M&A strategy and exclusive deals with music labels.

Almost surely, more hits are on their way.

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