The People’s Republic of China is seeking to remove ‘effeminate men’ and other ‘immoral’ content from video games. This is part of a raft of new rules from the Chinese government to crack down on gaming in the country.
It’s not the only supposedly immoral theme that the government is cracking down on. The press release on the State Council’s website states:
“Obscene and violent content and those breeding unhealthy tendencies, such as money-worship and effeminacy, should be removed.”
Fighting gaming addiction
The Chinese government has set its sights on the gaming industry in recent months. It claims to wish to tackle gaming addiction among young people and profiteering within gaming – which is hard to argue with. Last month it forced a time limit on young people’s gaming. Under 18s will only be able to game from 8-9 pm, on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and on official holidays. The latest announcement, as well as controlling the kind of content allowed in games, limits promotions aimed at minors.
More concerningly, everyone will have to use their real names while gaming. There will be harsh penalties for gaming platforms who offer services to unregistered players.
Why is this an issue? Well – in April last year, many users of Animal Crossing: New Horizons used the game to stage digital protests in support of Hong Kong. The ability to create artworks on the game meant that users could decorate their islands with pro-democracy symbols. This type of content is hard to censor by the Chinese government. If you have to register your real name while gaming, activities like protesting become much more dangerous.
Games are not just narrative platforms – they are methods of communication and collaboration. China’s focus on policing this arena means that young people have had another avenue for free expression and resistance cut off.
In another blow to the LGBTQ+ community in China, games which display “wrong values” will not be granted a license according to reporting in PC Gamer. This includes games that feature “gay love”.
This is in addition to the crackdown on ‘effeminate men’ which limits how developers will be able to represent gender.
Developers will be forced to make difficult decisions. Will they continue to produce diverse games which won’t be available in China’s huge market? Or will they instead tailor their content to these restrictive and regressive new rules?
China’s state run press agency, Xinhua News Agency, put out the ominous report that new education would be provided to those in the gaming industry.
“The ministry will strengthen education on moral standards for all practitioners in the entertainment sector.”
State-censorship will continue to be an issue in Chinese media. Hollywood has adapted to rules around film, so their movies can be screened in the country. We’re likely to see blockbuster games follow a similar path.
What do you think about this move by China to control video gaming? Let us know via social media (if it is safe for you to do so).
Featured Image Credit: Square Enix