Addiction to online game ‘could sap fighting power’ of China’s army

PLA Daily says popularity of Honour of Kings among military personnel is a national security threat

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 August, 2017, 7:02am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 October, 2017, 11:00am

China’s military mouthpiece said on Sunday that an addiction to online game Honour of Kings among some of its soldiers could hamper their ability to fight.

“The game has already infiltrated ... the daily lives of some soldiers and officers, affecting [their] physical and psychological health on a certain level”, the People’s Liberation Army Daily article said.

“Over-addiction to mobile phone games is gradually harming the physical and psychological health of soldiers and officers. It even poses a threat to security management and could undermine combat capability,” according to the newspaper.

Here’s why Tencent’s Honour of Kings has 200 million players

Honour of Kings is a fantasy role-playing game based on Chinese historical characters and developed by gaming and social media giant Tencent.

It has become the most popular mobile game in the world, with more than 200 million registered players – about one for every seven people in China – and about 80 million active daily users.

Last month, People’s Daily described the game as a “poison” and “drug” for teenagers, a statement that caused the market value of Tencent to plunge by US$17.5 billion at one point.

Why China’s Honour of Kings is so popular: it’s all about communication

Playing video games has become more popular among PLA personnel since last year, when they were allowed to have smartphones in their barracks, and “not a small number of soldiers and officers have become addicted to Honour of Kings”, the newspaper report said.

Some officers were cited as saying that entire platoons of soldiers were seen doing nothing on weekends but playing the game in their barracks on their cell phones, according to the paper.

“The security threat cannot be ignored if a soldier has been suddenly called into real-life combat and yet his mind continues to linger in the game he was just playing,” it said.

Honour of Kings: female gamers outnumber men on world’s most popular battle arena mobile game

The report also raised concerns about the health impact of game addictions, citing reduced immunity and strength and a tendency to be more emotional.

The article urged the military to enrich the lifestyles of its soldiers and diversify their hobbies, to prevent overindulgence in online games.

Following the state media criticism of Honour of Kings, Tencent said last month that it would restrict usage for young players, with those below 12 limited to one hour each day.