A popular video game in China has been identified by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as a potential threat to combat readiness.

Excerpts from the Chinese-language article from the People’s Liberation Army Daily, a state-run media outlet for the military, were posted in the South China Morning Post.

The game has already infiltrated … the daily lives of some soldiers and officers, affecting [their] physical and psychological health on a certain level”, the PLA 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.”

The game in question is called Honour of Kings, a fantasy game made exclusively for mobile phones. The game was created by Tencent, a video game developer responsible for League of Legends, which is currently the world’s most popular PC game.

Gaming on mobile phones is much more practical for Chinese citizens, who rarely have access to game consoles of personal computers.

The Chinese government has targeted Honour of Kings before, due to its overwhelming popularity with young Chinese citizens. The government has called the game ‘poison’, and in response Tencent has said it would limit access to the game for children 12 and under to only one hour per day.

But for soldiers in the PLA, like soldiers everywhere, downtime in the barracks has enabled them to spend an inordinate amount of time playing the game. Chinese soldiers were reportedly allowed cell phones in their barracks only last year. The report said that entire platoons would remain in their barracks over the weekends playing the game.

Given that the report came from the mouthpiece of state-approved news for the military, such a report needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The Communist party in China already has it out for this game, it would not be too much of a stretch for them to fabricate reports about military readiness being affected as well. However, video game addiction is common everywhere, and anyone who has served in the military can cite an example of that one guy, or many guys, who displayed this exact behavior when they spent inordinate amounts of time playing games.

I witnessed multiple people becoming addicted to video games while at West Point, and summarily being expelled once their grades fell through the floor. Some would argue that we should simply ban such games to being with, and remove the distraction from the soldier’s life. Granted, it could be argued that the types of guys who would become addicted to games probably are not the ones we want leading soldiers in combat, and so it serves as a pretty effective form of natural selection.


Image from Presidential Press and Information Office of Russia