BEIJING, June 22 (Xinhua) -- China's online games companies must take steps to protect children from unwholesome and corrupting content, according to new regulations issued Tuesday by the Ministry of Culture.
The regulations, effective from Aug. 1, state online games targeting minors must be free of content that would lead to imitation of behavior that violates social morals and the law.
Horrifying, cruel or other content that is "unwholesome" is forbidden and measures must be developed to keep minors away from "inappropriate games," say the regulations.
The regulations offer no definition of "unwholesome" content, but explicitly forbid content advocating pornography, cults, superstitions, gambling and violence in all online games.
They also require the companies to develop techniques that would limit the gaming time of minors in order to prevent addiction, though without specifying what kinds of techniques and a permissible gaming time.
The issue drew national attention last year following a series of deaths at boot camps for Internet addicted youths.
Minors will also be prohibited from buying or selling items with virtual currencies, which the regulations say must be exclusively used to purchase the products or services of online games.
The ban on minors using of the virtual currencies is made possible by a new requirement that online game players register with their real names.
The regulations also stress "moderate gaming" and protecting public health in the development of online games industry in China.
The market value of the online games industry in China increased by almost 40 percent to 25.8 billion yuan (3.8 billion U.S. dollars) in 2009.
The new regulations were made public on the website of the central government on Tuesday.
Under Chinese law, minors are those under the age of 18.