Jan. 1, 2022 – When china’s government censors books, bars “effeminate men” from television or spoon-feeds Communist Party dogma to schoolchildren, liberals agree that its behaviour is shockingly repressive. But when in August it banned children from playing video games for most of the week, liberals who happened to be parents were in two minds. Yes, restricting the under-18s to an hour of gaming a day, on only three nights a week, was rather drastic. But perhaps it might be good for them?

China’s government argues that video games are addictive. This fear is not new. Two decades ago players of “Everquest”, an early online game, ruefully dubbed their hobby “Evercrack”. Gaming-addiction clinics have spread from China and South Korea to the West (Britain’s ritzy Priory clinic treats gaming addiction as well as staples such as sex, shopping and cocaine).