A child plays the game "Honour of Kings" by Tencent. Photo: Reuters

New research released on Friday found that young men in the US are choosing to play video games instead of working. The study was released as Chinese state media has targeted video game makers amid speculation that Beijing is gearing up to more strictly regulate the industry.

The study, published by the National Bureau of Economics on Friday, found that men aged 21 to 30 accounted for a disproportionate share of decline in work hours in the US over the past fifteen years, as compared to older men or women. Over the same period of time, men showed a dramatic shift from other leisure activities to video gaming.

Meanwhile, as the world’s largest video game market continues to boom across the globe in China, the country’s state media is saying that the industry needs to do more to guard against gaming’s negative influence on society.

An editorial in the People’s daily earlier this month targeted Tencent’s smash hit Honor of Kings franchise, calling it “poison,” sparking concern among some in the industry.

“Investors are quite concerned about Tencent’s profitability, given a large part of its revenue comes from the game,’’ Wei Wei, a trader at Huaxi Securities was quoted by the South China Morning Post as saying. “The surveillance from the government on the game industry will very probably be intensified going forward as we hear the voice from the People’s Daily in this event.’’

China has a history of employing a heavy hand when regulating the industry. A blanket ban on all video game consoles due to concerns of their affect on child development was only just lifted two years ago.