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China Clamps Down on Online Gaming 76

Posted by Zonk
from the can't-have-too-much-fun dept.
The BBC reports on new restrictions on online gaming. Specifically, they'll be monitoring some virtual worlds more closely, after some were found to be carrying 'anti-government' messages. Examples include religious and political material, although there are very few details on either the content or what exactly they'll be doing to monitor it. From the article: "Distributors must now obtain approval before releasing new games, reported Xinhua news agency. Companies must also submit monthly monitoring reports, confirming developers have not added forbidden content. The latest round of enforcement was prompted by 'a rash of problems with imported online games, some of which contain sensitive religious material or refer to territorial disputes', Xinhua said. " Relatedly, in Gamasutra's regular 'China Angle' column, they look at gaming-related TV ads, why those are dicey, and requirements that players not cross-dress in MMOGs.
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China Clamps Down on Online Gaming

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  • dear citizens of china, seriously guys, the amount of stuff you're willing to put up with is freaking me out. a lot. perhaps you should so something about that government you've got? just a suggestion. -jimfinity p.s. i just realized that due to the subject matter of this letter, your government probably won't let you see it. case in point.
    • by jamar0303 (896820)
      Nope, I'm seeing this just fine. Of course, my school also gets unrestricted internet- it's just a matter of "getting friendly" with the right people- they'll route your internet around the Great Firewall (or make sure that your proxy server of choice outside the country is fast and stays up).
    • dear citizens of the USA, seriously guys, the amount of stuff you're willing to put up with is freaking me out. a lot. perhaps you should so something about that government you've got? just a suggestion
      • by mjhacker (922395)

        dear citizens of the USA, seriously guys, the amount of stuff you're willing to put up with is freaking me out. a lot. perhaps you should so something about that government you've got? just a suggestion
        But at least we're allowed to gripe about our government. Or change things via democratic means, if we don't like it.

        Nice attempt at being witty, though. Points for that.
        • ...we can gripe, anyway. Our election infrastructure is pretty suspect...I wouldn't say rigged, more randomized.

          We can wait for the forces of chaos swirling through the Diebold voting machines to choose us new leadership.

        • But at least we're allowed to gripe about our government. Or change things via democratic means, if we don't like it.

          In Soviet Russia, there was a joke:

          An American dog asks a Russian dog, "So, how's this 'glastnost' thing working out?"
          The Russian dog replies, "It's great! They made my chain one meter longer, moved the food two meters further away, and I can bark to my heart's content!"
        • by Shads (4567)
          Yah, but you get called anti-american or a terrorist these days if you disagree with the tripe they're putting out.

          As for changing things, sure we can elect someone else next election or change senators and such... ... but ...

          Evil Corrupt Lying Democrat who is in the pocket of various medical, ecological businesses, and other countries.
          - or -
          Evil Corrupt Lying Republican who is in the pocket of the religious reich, the rich, and big business.
          - or -
          Evil Corrupt Lying Independent who got shot
    • by ab0mb88 (541388)
      I knew Paris Hilton read slashdot, I just didn't think she posted here.
    • by vega80 (852274)
      China is still an authoritarian regime. People who have stood up for human rights in China (and there are many) have been thrown in jail, or worse. It's easy for you to try to prod the Chinese into action, since you don't have the fear of the secret police whisking you away in the middle of the night here. I'm sure citizens in China are hopeful for the day when they can be free citizens, and that day may eventually come, but if you care about civil liberties, I think you should address your letter to the
    • Of course they should do something, but what can they really do? Nobody but the Chinese government is allowed to own firearms, so armed revolt would be a difficult task... though I'm sure 1 billion people armed with pitchforks and torches would make it easier.
  • Wow... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PingSpike (947548) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @12:00PM (#17223700)
    I mean, I knew they had some nutty censorship going on there...but they've actually got people that make sure you can't crossdress in online computer games? Is that really a big enough problem that they need assign government officials to it?

    I guess I'll try to see this as an example of why all freedom of expression must be protected...even that which you disagree with. If you shrug it off, it just gets worse and worse.

    • I agree. It's stuff like this that makes me thankful that I live in America. Where, regardless of how you feel about the government, you are always free to express your opinions.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        How is this much different than in the US, other than it being de jure there and de facto here?

        Try refusing to submit your film/game/cd for a rating, see how far it gets.
        • by Rycross (836649)
          If I had a film/game/cd to publish, I could do so without a rating with no problem. Sure, places like Wal Mart wouldn't carry it without a rating, but the police wouldn't be knocking down my door, and I wouldn't be banned from selling it in whatever avenue I could find. The rating system is voluntary here, and yes, the biggest retail stores and publishers enforce it, but its not the same as government compulsion.
        • Whether your film/game/cd is rated or not is beside the point. What matters is that I could create a movie expressing my opinions about the government/economy/whatever and there wouldn't be any secret service agents knocking on my door telling me I'm a criminal because I'm "anti-government" (which I'm not by the way). That's the difference.
          • by jackbird (721605)
            What matters is that I could create a movie expressing my opinions about the government/economy/whatever and there wouldn't be any secret service agents knocking on my door telling me I'm a criminal because I'm "anti-government" (which I'm not by the way).

            One of the most chilling clauses I have ever read on slashdot. Why did you feel compelled to say that?

        • by Marillion (33728)
          The distinction is that in the US, film and game ratings are done by a industry consortium. This is a two edged sword. On the one hand, it's not government censorship. This is good. On the other hand the first amendment doesn't apply to private entities. Who is the film ratings board? Who are they accountable to? Can I make petitions to them? They have de facto censorship powers. This isn't good. The same issues and problems apply to games as well.
    • by faloi (738831)
      I mean, I knew they had some nutty censorship going on there...but they've actually got people that make sure you can't crossdress in online computer games? Is that really a big enough problem that they need assign government officials to it?

      It's not so much that it's a big enough problem to assign officials to it. It's more that it's harmless enough that they can assign officials the "easy" job, and then depending on mood congratulate them on their great work or demonize them for failing. It's hard to
    • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Funny)

      by techpawn (969834) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @12:19PM (#17223992) Journal
      These Bra and earrings give me +50 in my mana... the panties is just a comfort thing...
    • I mean, I knew they had some nutty censorship going on there...but they've actually got people that make sure you can't crossdress in online computer games? Is that really a big enough problem that they need assign government officials to it?

      I guess I'll try to see this as an example of why all freedom of expression must be protected...even that which you disagree with. If you shrug it off, it just gets worse and worse.


      When crossdressing in MMORPGs is criminalized, only criminals will crossdress in MMORPGs.
    • I have a feeling a lot of Night Elves are going to disappear from the game...
    • ...but they've actually got people that make sure you can't crossdress in online computer games? Is that really a big enough problem that they need assign government officials to it?
      You've never played an MMO before have you...

      MMORPG = Many Men Online Role Playing Girls
    • Re:Wow... (Score:4, Informative)

      by MWoody (222806) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @05:09PM (#17228690)
      Actually, you've fallen afoul of yet more shitty slashdot editing. From the link:

      Chengdu based Aurora Technology is forcing some reality back into fantasy role playing games as it places a visual verification restriction to players that want to play female characters in the company's new game Feng Yun Online. Only female gamers can play female characters. If successful, the policy should reduce confusion and broken hearts in the game.

      So the government has nothing to do with it, nor is it in any sense a product of an overarching regulatory action. It's one MMO that's using "our girls are REALLY girls" as a selling point.

      *sigh* I've defended the slashdot editors in the past (and been modded down for it), but this is getting silly. The optimist in me hopes it's a secret campaign to point out people who don't actually read the articles, just the summary, and make them look like fools. I know I, for one, feel like an idiot for IM'ing a few friends that link with "OMG, teh Chin3se are teh anti-mangirlz!"
      • by ultranova (717540)

        So the government has nothing to do with it, nor is it in any sense a product of an overarching regulatory action. It's one MMO that's using "our girls are REALLY girls" as a selling point.

        I'm a man with beard and all, but I doubt I'd have any trouble fooling a shitty webcam (or whatever they're using) to think that I'm a woman; if all else fails, show it a video of a woman playing a game (hey, can I sense a new bestselling MMO ebay item ?-). Given that, this is going to do absolutely nothing to stop an

      • Reduce confusion and broken hearts? What kind of game is that? :P
    • by jdavidl (1039788)
      With 1.2 billion people, they have so many government officials that they had to make work for some of them...
    • by Lordpidey (942444)
      Hmm, what about a game like Endless Ages where males and females are significantly different stat-wise? They can be completely different in terms of gameplay.
  • by jrwr00 (1035020)
    I wonder if they let them play WoW
    • by Fozzyuw (950608)
      WoW is popular in China, just like in the US, Europe, and S.Korea. In the WoW website released the Coke sponsered TV ad some time ago for people to see. It was a good ad, but I had no idea who the 'famous' people where. Cheers, Fozzy
    • Ever heard of Chinese farmers?
    • by bkg_cjb (952573)
      If they tried to restrict WoW in China, there would actually be an uprising of historical proportions...yes, it's very popular here.
  • Will SOMEBODY PLEASE think of the Government!
    Ohh my god that western influence of logic and reason is going to be the death of you!

    China's government is... very paranoid.
    • Re:Big Sebastion? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by analog_line (465182) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @12:44PM (#17224388)
      China's government has every reason to be paranoid.

      They have a massive, restless, and incredibly impoverished rural population that could crush the Chinese Communist Party if it ever decided that enough is enough, and revolution is at hand. The geography we currently call China has had a very long, and very bloody history of conflict. Sun-Tzu and all the rest of the famous Chinese military theorists were born out of that period in Chinese history. If you've ever played Romance of the Three Kingdoms, or the Dynasty Warriors games, that period is what those games are set in. The analogies are legion to represent the kind of balancing act the Communists have to undergo to keep China looking like what we think China really is. Even in the video games that you get out of China that are about Chinese history, that period is presented like a civil conflict, not wars between sovereign states. My guess being that while the powers that be can't erase the powerful legendary figures and the hold they have on the dreams of the Chinese people, they certainly can work to make sure that what they think those legends and stories should teach is what gets taught.
      • The only thing a storied history of warfare for control of the country shows is that your own little empire is just another little benchmark and will eventually fall for the same reason the others did.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by silentounce (1004459)
      A government that is not paranoid is not a government at all.
  • Territorial disputes? Of course there are! Have they looked at the state of Arathi Basin lately? It goes back and forth like no tomorrow!
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @12:21PM (#17224026) Homepage Journal
    So China doesn't want to play games with controversial religious messages, territorial disputes, or suspect political commentary. They must have loved it 21 years ago when Super Mario came back to life after death, lowered a flag outside a castle, and rescued a kidnapped princess from an evil king.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Hell, they must have loved it even more 10,000 years ago when chessmen advanced across a board on a mission to kill a king, while pawns struggled to reach the other side and transform into queens.
      • Actually old-school chess had 'Councilors' instead of queens, that could only move diagonally 1 space foward and back. Since pawns could only turn into Councilors, the game was saying 'if you start out as a pawn, you can't get very far'. Nothing controversial about that.
  • by 58797A7A79 (795378)
    Way to go, China... always being a shining example of how not to run a country. Makes me wonder which will happen first, the US catching up with you, or you catching up with North Korea.

    This just makes me sick. People should be able to speak out their grievances against their government without fearing for their lives or freedom.
    • by jamar0303 (896820)
      you catching up with North Korea

      Great... I'm DEFINITELY not staying in China for college- back to the States the first chance I get.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 1ntegral (792901)
      This country has its share of human rights abuses. They're just not as publicized or obvious, and a lot of the time they take place outside of our borders, against non-citizens. Still, the erosion of our civil liberties is slowly advancing, especially since 9/11, and I feel every day as though our rights, including free speech, are going the way of the great auk.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by 1ntegral (792901)
        Also, just an afterthought, it may be my insular American perspective talking, but I am continuously surprised that there is still a world superpower in existence under tight-fisted communist rule. I mean, I know that the general populous of China probably doesn't have access to most, if not all of the distopian books and films that illustrate the ridiculousness and certainty of failure of that particular governmental structure, nor would they have read the theory that makes their system a ticking time bomb
        • Chinese people are mentally different. You know the theory that language molds the mind. Chinese has a more conformist attitude and generally attempt not to shake the boat. Perhaps it because the language is more about rote memorization. I happen to be chinese and have visited china often. They are aware of the funny things the gov does and are aware of the outside world. They simply want to live life, work hard, and raise a family. Not unlike most people and they just don't enjoy rockign the boat.
  • by Clever7Devil (985356) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @12:28PM (#17224148)
    Now if we could only show the Chinese government just how gay gold farming is...
    • Hmm, I read this and realized I was lining myself up for some massive flames. (No pun intended. Damn it! I did it again!)

      You see, I'm being ironic here. The Chinese government seems to be suffering from a bout of homophobia. The image of the "Chinese Gold Farmer" is something that is very vivid for MMO players.

      "Gay" is a popular MMO insult amongst another annoyance of online worlds: immature boys. These folks are also suffering from a (likely sociologically induced) case of homophobia.

      You see what I did the
  • The real reason is that the Koreans are beating the Chinese in the online games.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      The Koreans are just better at mastering complex concepts and techniques than the Chinese. Witness the failed Chinese effort to master bathing and oral hygiene.

      -Eric

  • I Want My CTV! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @01:34PM (#17225100) Homepage Journal
    I wonder which demands will drive more political change in China's mafia government: basic human rights, or more entertainment? If the entertainment is interactive communication among regular Chinese citizens, there probably isn't a difference, or at least it's a reinforcing cycle.
  • Fear (Score:3, Insightful)

    by silentounce (1004459) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @01:50PM (#17225316) Homepage
    I think what they are afraid of is groups like the Falun Gong building a presence on these online games and acting as a medium of communication, a place to hold meetings, plot actions, etc. Anti-government movements have existed throughout Chinese history e.g. the White Lotus Society, Kuomintang, the CCP. One of these groups eventually takes power through a violent revolution. The cycle has been going on for thousands of years.
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @02:39PM (#17226116) Journal
    ...Let China do it?

    So if I get this right, if in WoW I reguarly /yell "FREE TIBET" and "DOWN WITH THE FASCIST OPPRESSORS OF TIANAMEN SQUARE!" China will step in and prevent any logins from China to my server?

    That's quite a tragedy.

    Sounds like I need to program some macros.
  • by StephenW (972389) on Wednesday December 13, 2006 @04:35PM (#17228180) Homepage
    I'll be interested to see how people take it the day that Blizzard puts out some unacceptable patch and the Chinese government attempts to completely remove World of Warcraft. I can see the headlines now. "Chinese government overthrown by gold farmer revolt in a single night," followed shortly by, "Azerothan gold piece replaces the yen as official Chinese currency."

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