The government-run news agency revealed on Tuesday that the proposed new system will allow players to play normally for three hours, but after that will start to reduce the abilities of the character used by the time-clocked player.
After five hours, the character will be reduced to the lowest skill level permitted in the game. The timer will not reset itself until five hours of non-playing time have elapsed.
The move is in response to concerns that some players are becoming so immersed in the online fantasy games that it is affecting their day-to-day lives.
It follows game related incidents over recent months, including the death from exhaustion of a South Korean gamer after 50 hours of almost non-stop play, and the murder of a gamer who had allegedly stolen a virtual weapon from his attacker, and then sold it.
"This timing mechanism can prevent young people from becoming addicted to online games," Kou Xiaowei, Deputy Director of the Audiovisual and Internet Publication Department of the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), said, according to Interfax.
The agency reports that the system should be ready for internal testing by October, and will then operate on a trial basis on several games, including “The Legend of Mir II” and “World of Warcraft”. The system is expected to become compulsory for all online role-playing games in China by early next year.