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Health

In China, children’s idols are video game stars, not Messi or Ronaldo

By Paula Escalada Medrano /  Shanghai  (China) /  Rather than idolizing soccer superstars such as Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, millions of youngsters in China dream of becoming the next “The Shy” or “Doinb,” two of the best-known video gamers in the country, where esports’ explosion in popularity in recent years has also brought collateral damage: a sharp rise in addiction among China’s youth.

Experts and the few studies conducted into the issue, such as the one conducted in 2018 by the education ministry, warn that 18 percent of Chinese adolescents are at risk of becoming gaming addicts.

This alarming situation is causing authorities in the Asian giant to take measures and pass increasingly stringent regulations to fight an addiction which the World Health Organization (WHO) included on its list of disorders this year.

The most recent regulation includes banning under-18s from playing online between 10 pm and 8 am, as well as imposing a daily limit of 90 minutes, or three hours per day on holidays.

These measures, whilst they do shine a light on a new social ill, don’t raise awareness of the issue or promote self-control among those who are vulnerable to addiction.

“Generally, if you prohibit something, it becomes more popular,” says Lu Chengyi, a 20-year-old student who plays video games for around three hours a day in his free time, or “all day if I have nothing to do.”

Rather than discouraging young Chinese, the minimum age requirement means that “children see it as something to aspire to, something cool and mature,” Lu says. “I don’t think these measures are a way of tackling the root of the problem.”

While the companies designing video games are doing their part to slow this alarming rate of addiction, creating a faithful following that will boost a game’s popularity without harming the gamers is the challenge.

“Apart from the fact that video games have an inherent addictive quality because they provide immediate entertainment and fun, companies have psychological divisions which apply techniques and use gaming patterns that make the user’s brain want more,” Oscar Lopez, who arrived in China from Spain two months ago to head a team at a leading gaming company, tells EFE.

Although this year growth is expected to slow, in recent years China has been the place to be for aspiring video gaming industry figures. “If you want to work in video games, especially mobile games, China is a gaming Mecca because its internal market is so enormous,” the 27-year-old Spaniard says.

This boom is also being reflected in educational spheres, with dozens of schools and universities starting to provide courses that tailor to the sector.

Another factor contributing to rising rates of addiction is the growing number of streaming platforms that broadcast esports tournaments, turning the most successful gamers into global stars.

The best-known broadcast is the international League of Legends, which reaches 100 million viewers. In the last two years, the competition has been won only by Chinese teams.

This massive popularity, success and exposure means that most Chinese youngsters aspire not to be the next Messi or Ronaldo, but the next “Doinb,” a 22-year-old who has 4 million followers on Chinese social media platform Weibo, or “The Shy,” who at 20 years of age has 1.4 million followers.

“The most famous gamers can win a lot of money, and many children want to be like them,” says Yang Fan, manager of the addictions department at Wangjing Education, a company that trains professional gamers.

As well as providing training, the company also holds anti-addiction seminars and talks in schools because, as Yang says, the industry cannot ignore the harmful effects the games may have on society.

But even with new government legislation, loopholes are easy to find and “students have myriad ways of getting past the restrictions.”

Some use their parents’ IDs to sign up, and for websites that require facial recognition, some users have even resorted to “scanning their parents’ faces as they sleep,” Yang says.

“The laws that only regulate gaming time are not tackling the root of the problem,” adds Yang, who says parents are the most responsible for this state of affairs, either through ignorance or apathy.

“The parents themselves spend far too much on their phones. They want their kids to do certain chores but they themselves don’t stop staring at screens. It’s not a good example to set,” he says.

Accordingly, the company also offers classes to parents to explain to them that video gaming is not the “monster” they think it is, but that certain tools and commitment are needed to teach young gamers how to exercise a healthy level of self control and discipline. (November 29, 2019, EFE/Practica Español)

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Comprehension

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Question 1
Principalmente, el texto habla... (Mainly, the text talk about...)
A
de por qué China es un referente en la industria del videojuego.
B
de cuáles son los juegos más populares en China.
C
del problema de la adicción a los videojuegos en China.
Question 2
En el texto se dice que los jóvenes chinos... (It's said in the text that Chinese young people...)
A
desmienten que sus ídolos sean unos jugadores de videojuegos.
B
no solo quieren ser como Ronaldo sino también como unos jugadores de videojuegos.
C
no tienen a unos futbolistas como ídolos sino a unos jugadores de videojuegos.
Question 3
Según el texto, las autoridades chinas... (According to the text, the Chinese authorities...)
A
descartan que haya algún tipo de problema con los jóvenes chinos y los videojuegos.
B
decidieron actuar para evitar que aumente la adicción a los videojuegos entre los jóvenes.
C
aún no han tomado ninguna medida para tratar de reducir la adicción a los videojuegos.
Question 4
Leyendo el texto entendemos que... (Reading the text, we understant that...)
A
se desmiente que esté prohibido jugar online durante unas horas determinadas en China.
B
la mayoría de los jóvenes chinos considera que esa normativa va hacer que los jóvenes tomen conciencia del problema.
C
es importante que los padres también den ejemplo a sus hijos haciendo un uso responsable del móvil.
Question 5
En el vídeo se dice que... (It's said in the video that...)
A
el auge del sector de los videojuegos no ha generado ningún tipo de adicción entre los jóvenes.
B
se fija un límite de tiempo para jugar online en los días festivos.
C
más de la mitad de los jóvenes adolescentes chinos ya es adicto.
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Vocabulary

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La expresión 'tomar cartas en el asunto' significa... (The expression 'tomar cartas en el asunto' means...)
A
no involucrarse en algo.
B
decidir intervenir en ese asunto.
C
preguntar por la situación de algo.
Question 2
En el texto, 'sino'... (In the text, 'sino'...)
A
se utiliza para realizar una oración condicional negativa.
B
es lo mismo que 'pero'.
C
significa 'destino'.
Question 3
La palabra 'facial' está relacionada con... (The word 'facial' is related to...)
A
la cara.
B
los pies.
C
la mano.
Question 4
Si se 'acata una normativa'... (If 'se acata una normativa'...)
A
se cumple y respeta.
B
se cuestiona.
C
se incumple.
Question 5
El artículo determinado para 'adicción' es: (The definite article for 'adicción' is:)
A
la
B
el
C
lo
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