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Censorship Government Games

China To Crack Down On "Undesirable" Games 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the stick-to-pong-and-nobody-gets-hurt dept.
The Chinese government is getting ready to launch a new round of content restrictions for online games. Kou Xiaowei, a senior official with the General Administration of Press and Publication, said, "Although China's online gaming industry had been hot in recent years, online games are regarded by many as a sort of spiritual opium and the whole industry is marginalized by mainstream society." The article points out that China has already "banned children from Internet cafes and last year ordered their owners to enforce time restrictions after several cases involving obsessive players dying of fatigue after marathon game sessions." We've also seen Chinese restrictions on player-versus-player content for kids, as well as required content modifications such as removing skeletons in order for games to be sold there.
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China To Crack Down On "Undesirable" Games

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  • When in China... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bob_Who (926234) <`ten.ohw' `ta' `boB'> on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:25AM (#28386407) Homepage Journal
    Do as the Chinese do....actually China has come a long way in the last decade, and its difficult to really get a clear perspective from our cultural context. I just hope that our relations with them, and the rest of the world improve, and that we are all tolerant of one another. One thing I do know about the Chinese, having been vary close to a gentleman from Shanghai, a graduate business student who now works here, is that in China their greatest fear is CHAOS. That one is not on the top of our list, but it gives a little insight as to why they may often seem heavy handed. Lets try to understand where they are coming from, when we hear about how they seem to be. I always liked Chinese food, and the people are cool too.
    • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:32AM (#28386735) Journal
      It's understandable that their greatest fear would be chaos, they have direct experience with it during the cultural revolution. It was horrible. And interestingly, it was largely democratic, in that it was the people doing it, not the secret police, although it was at the instigation of the leaders. It was the rising up of the proletariat to do whatever they wanted.

      One interesting difference between the Russian communism and Chinese communism is that while Russia had the secret police, and strong military control, China didn't really have that nearly as much. It was the people who kept each other in line in China.

      While we look on their situation as oppressive, they don't see it that way, in fact if there were elections, most Chinese would probably approve the way things are being run right now. There will not be democracy until the people are ready for it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fbjon (692006)

        There will not be democracy until the people are ready for it.

        Which is oddly democratic..

      • China is too populous to be a democracy. According to Google there are roughly 300 million people in the US and 1,300 million people living in China. Forget about the size of the country for a minute and think about the size of the government that would be required to coordinate the efforts of so many people in some kind of meaningful way.

        Of course, you could say that in a direct democracy or some kind of technocratic democracy people would all be so wired that they could make direct, informed decisions in
        • (One of these things doesn't go with the other. )
          We can't even get electronic voting.
          We need committees elected by people.

          Electronic vote tabulation devices do not allow for public oversight. If you don't have public oversight, you are basically counting votes in secret, which isn't good for a supposedly constitutional republic

          Why worry about games when we have
          Other crackdowns...

          Threats by the Chinese government, if they catch ya posting something they don't like.myspace-cn [slashdot.org]

          If we analyze China, ourtreasury n [denninger.net]

        • You do it by making a representative republic, not a direct democracy.

          The major advantage of a democracy is not that it's fair, or representative (I mean, the US had slavery under a democracy: how fair is that?); the advantage is that when enough people want change, they can change it without resorting to violence. It changes from a tyranny of one to a tyranny of the majority, but when the majority want something different, they can get it without having to face murderous police like in Iran.

          Besides, C
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Governments use many tools to divide and conquer us. Race, Class, base fears such as terrorism, and influence from foreign powers.
      Yes, China is moving in a positive direction, but let's not fall into the cultural relativism trap. Our governments have limited power by design. That makes them better. Not, "Oh their culture is different so whatever works for them". They are not aliens, they are people, and getting rid of dictatorships is something they can aspire to.

      The age gap is massive, since many younger p

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      What is it with Asians and conformity anyway? It must be some eastern religion thing, but it seems like China, Japan, Korea, etc. are absolutely OBSESSED with conformity, almost manically so. It's one of the reasons I hate their videogames. Every Japanese RPG is completely on-rails and plays pretty much exactly the same as the last. In the West, we love the sandbox game that allows for multiple approaches to any given problem. In Japan, it's all about "Go here, just like you're supposed to, and watch this l
  • Or is this a ploy to decrease "imports?"

    Somehow, I just don't see China treating World of Fight on equal grounds with World of Warcraft.

  • Agreed. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by s1lverl0rd (1382241)

    China has the power to do many things other coutries frown upon. Of all the things they did, I think this one is the least disturbing.

    Nothing to see here, move along.

  • by t0qer (230538) on Friday June 19, 2009 @03:51AM (#28386573) Homepage Journal

    Please slashdotters, click..
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_Race_(1976_game) [wikipedia.org]

    For a little video game history in the US.

    Back in the day (3 years after I was born) this little gem of an arcade game was released. It was protest by parents groups, it was on 20/20. This was during that wacky time in the 70's when even stuff like AD&D was considered by some religious extremists to be a "Gateway to Satanic Worship"

    OK so granted, our country is now fucked. China exports more goods to the US than we send to them. That's OK though because I see a little bit of history repeating.

    Certainly we shouldn't take pleasure in others miseries, but I can't help it. You're (you are china) trying to restrict a game. I should cite some more recent examples, like the "Nintendo Seal of Excellence" where the crosses in the American version of Castlevania were removed.

    Hopefully in my inebriated state I've somehow managed to convey a message here, and that message is "So what if they censor games now? The subsequent Chinese generations are going to be just as if not MORE into capitalism and consumerism than today's (just like with the US). At some point, some government official is going to realize that it's a huge waste of money trying to censor everything, and that department will get cut. It will probably have more to do with cost savings than some sort of moral obligation to the population.

    Just look at how the internet has changed radio. Howard Stern gave up on terrestrial radio and FCC censorship. Same thing will happen in China. Just watch, and laugh at their governments laudable efforts to control it.

    • [...]The subsequent Chinese generations are going to be just as if not MORE into capitalism and consumerism than today's (just like with the US).[...]

      You make that sound like a good thing...

    • by bronney (638318)

      So what if they censor games now? The subsequent Chinese generations are going to be just as if not MORE into capitalism and consumerism than today's (just like with the US).
      .
      You write as though the PRC still gives a shit. I agree with you, I just don't agree with the way you say it. It's not that they are trying to convert the capitalists to communists or vice versa, they simply don't give a shit what you are. That is the problem. What the "officials" are concerned about, much like normal politicians,

    • by Threni (635302)

      You're talking about China like it's this little unimportant thing. China owns the US in terms of debt and exports. In the coming decades, China is going to be the number 1 superpower, and the US will be *nowhere*. Trust me.

      You might want to read this:
      http://www.chrismartenson.com/ [chrismartenson.com]

    • Laudable actually means praiseworthy btw, I'm guessing you meant laughable.

    • by BigGar' (411008)

      Here's another gem of a game, from 1982 for the Atari 2600 home console:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Custer's_Revenge [wikipedia.org]

      Ah; the good old days.

    • by MWoody (222806)

      It was an arcade game. Arcades were populated with mostly preteens. Removing something from public places is one thing; removing it from private consumers is another.

      Or do you think preventing Chuck-E-Cheese from including animatronic porn in their acts is the same thing as banning the sale of adult DVDs?

  • Usually we consider it beneficial if what we call "opressive" governments take over ideas from what we call "free" democracies.

    In this case [slashdot.org] I'm not so sure if I'm glad.

  • Can someone who understands Chinese culture a little better than I explain why skeletons are considered so taboo?

    I've heard of the problems that WoW has had including them, as well as other games such as Magic the Gathering being told to take the bones out if they want to sell in the Middle Kingdom. I haven't heard much of an explanation other than that skeletons aren't allowed...

    Anyone care to give a bit more of an explanation? (I've tried a quick google, but all I get is people reporting that WoW got re

    • by ammit (1485755)
      That's funny...the first result I got gave me the answer - skeletons are a bad omen/bad luck in China. Maybe try Bing next time...it might have more pictures.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        So why do they have to censor superstitious things that are supposed to bring bad luck? We don't ban black cats, walking under ladders and so on. Just because it's a "bad omen" isn't really an explanation why they are so adamantly trying to censor it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Probably because banning violence (in germany and australia), and banning everything that could even remotely remind someone that we are a species that wants to reproduce (in the US) were already taken, and they certainly can't go around not banning anything.

        • by ammit (1485755)
          Well I think it might well be. I think that some cultures take their superstitions a lot more seriosuly than others is all....
          • by HTH NE1 (675604)

            They aren't taking the supernatural seriously until they ritually debone the dead and burn the bones to prevent the rise of the zombies. How can they eat your brain if they don't have any teeth or jaws?

            Besides, an advancing horde of boneless zombies is funny.

    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:56AM (#28386853) Homepage Journal

      Can someone who understands Chinese culture a little better than I explain why skeletons are considered so taboo?

      My wife is Malaysian Chinese. I don't have a complete answer for you but I can make a couple of observations:

      • Chinese cemeteries in Malaysia are unmaintained and overgrown. Once your relatives get buried there nobody goes back to clean out the weeds and repair damage. There are whole herds of buffalo in the Ipoh chinese cemetery which nobody seems to know about. I found one when I went over a small hill to take a leak.
      • They take ghost stories much more seriously than westerners. I got a tour of my wife's home city and was pointed to an empty house site. Apparently a rich man had built a house there but pulled it down when it turned out to be haunted. I said they should just rent it to westerners looking for a spooky experience. They acted like the crazy westerners wanted to get killed or something.
      • Walking through the streets I noticed a little shrine. It had burning stuff and fruit like an offering. I ask my wife what that was. She snapped don't go near it. Ancestor worship and we walked on.

      Its just that the Chinese have a thing about death. Its not discussed in polite company. They avoid the number 4 because the way it is spoken it sounds like death.

      • Its just that the Chinese have a thing about death. Its not discussed in polite company. They avoid the number 4 because the way it is spoken it sounds like death.

        You're thinking of the japanese language - "shi" means "four" or "death" depending on the character used to spell it.

        • Its just that the Chinese have a thing about death. Its not discussed in polite company. They avoid the number 4 because the way it is spoken it sounds like death.

          You're thinking of the japanese language - "shi" means "four" or "death" depending on the character used to spell it.

          I don't know much about the Japanese but the Chinese definitely have a thing about the number four. They won't sit at table number four in a restaurant. Several times after we have got a new phone service my wife has told me we have to change the number because (she says) her mother thinks there are too many fours in it.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The same in Chinese. The number 4 is "si", and death is also "si". The tone is different, but more or less the same.

        • Its just that the Chinese have a thing about death. Its not discussed in polite company. They avoid the number 4 because the way it is spoken it sounds like death.

          You're thinking of the japanese language - "shi" means "four" or "death" depending on the character used to spell it.

          It also sounds like 'to die' in Chinese.

          'Si' [mandarintools.com] (Pronounced Like The Si in 'Sir') in the four sense.
          'Si' [mandarintools.com] (Pronounced Like The Si in 'Sir?' The difference in pronumciation is the tone with this one going down in the middle and ending up like a question, and the Si in four just going down in tone like a statement.) in the death sense.

          Here is a list of all the things Si can mean [mandarintools.com].

          Numbers in Chinese often sound like words, here's a wikipedia entry on it [wikipedia.org].

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          It's too bad you apparently don't know that the Japanese language is constructed out of elements ripped off from Chinese, or you wouldn't have had to contradict someone for being right.

          From where I'm sitting (i.e. far away) it seems like Japanese culture is the distilled essence of other Asian cultures. Anything that wouldn't fit on their little island was excised a long time ago, like rudeness. :)

    • by Alsee (515537) on Friday June 19, 2009 @05:33AM (#28387041) Homepage

      Can someone who understands Chinese culture a little better than I explain why skeletons are considered so taboo?

      I wouldn't really claim to understand Chinese culture, but I did happen to read an article explaining this particular point, so I can give you a second-hand answer.

      A very deep issue in Chinese culture and thousands of years of history and mythology, is ancestry and the spirits of ancestors, bordering on ancestor worship. Anywho.... authoritarian regimes tend to take one of two approaches to religion. Either there's Nazi model where they seize upon the predominant religion (evangelical Christianity in the Nazi's case) and impose it in all the schools and throughout society as a tool of power and control by claiming "Gott Mit Uns" (God Is With Us), or there's the Stalin model that seeks to exterminate religion as a competing threat to it's own power and authority.

      In Chinese culture the idea that the spirits of The Ancestors might disapprove of government policies and government actions, the idea that The Ancestors might grant strength and power to humble peasantry, to fight and win against an impossibly larger and more powerful (but corrupt) foe.

      Think of our Robin Hood story, and cross it with the mythology of pretty much every martial arts movie you have ever seen where some guy beats the crap out of entire armies worth of enemies, and cross that with a mythology that idolizes and idealizes the power and nobility of ancestors, and which believes that the spirits of the ancestors still live and watch over us and that their power can be called upon.

      I also think we view skeletons as generic mindless creepy-ghoulies, empty shells animated by magic, but I think they view them more as animated by the spirit of a powerful ancestor. Consider out "Night of the Living Dead" movie mythology, if you see a zombie you just whack it with a shovel, they are only dangerous if you get mobbed. On the other hand imagine a "zombie" who was the full mental-and-spiritual embodiment of King Arthur, you are NOT going to win in combat against him, and if you oppose him you're pretty much automatically "the bad guy".

      Hopefully I didn't butcher Chinese culture too badly with my substantial ignorance. The Chinese government is opposed to any and all religion, considering it a threat to their own authority and their own stability. And of course they are most keenly allergic to the most deeply rooted mythologies of their own culture.

      -

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Dusty101 (765661)

        Consider out "Night of the Living Dead" movie mythology, if you see a zombie you just whack it with a shovel, they are only dangerous if you get mobbed. On the other hand imagine a "zombie" who was the full mental-and-spiritual embodiment of King Arthur, you are NOT going to win in combat against him, and if you oppose him you're pretty much automatically "the bad guy".

        This is not the case, however, if a cricket bat is used...

      • by jandersen (462034)

        I'm not sure why or even if the Chinese have a particular problem with skeletons; Having been married to a Chinese for 10 years and lived in Beijing, I have never come across this. If they have an issue with skeletons, I'm not sure we have to invent intricate explanations - all cultures have some things they consider particularly unclean and unacceptable. One thing I found surprising was that in Japanese Shinto the penis is apparently revered, even to the extent that they will carry a huge, vividly painted

        • by Alsee (515537)

          the Chinese as a wildly repressive, fascistic regime

          Actually I used the word "authoritarian", although I can see how you interpreted my post as more venomous than I had intended, from the way I used the examples of Nazis and Stalin to make my point about the bi-polar relationship between authoritarianism and religion. I do consider authoritarian government to be a bad thing, and I do have many objections against the Chinese government, I really did not intended to equate it with the Nazis.

          factual errors. Co

      • Ok this one I will definitely go with.

        After living in Beijing for three years and becoming a Call Of Duty 4 freak (a nasty opium like habit that some Chinese friends gave me)I have seen that their net cafe's are _sketchy_.

        The smaller ones will sell you pornography. EVERYONE is smoking like a chimney (I know I was lighting up between rounds) and in general they are just dark, seedy, places that I wouldnt want my kid within 100 yards of.

        I know its easy to say 'think of the children!' but in this case ill actu

  • Well there go the sales of "Lego Battles" in China. (OK, I kid when I talk about "actual" software sales in China) Pretty much any plastic Lego set that has skellies in them as well. Pirates, Castle, Indy, etc. At least I can take to heart that there will be no more pirated versions of "Clash of the Titans" floating around China. Heaven forbid China should decide to invade North America on the evening of Oct. 31st. That is when we allow the skeletons, princesses, superheroes, witches and ghosts free to patr
  • Every time /. has a thread about regulation of video games or porn, I see that several different arguments get blended together as if they are interchangeable:

    1. What is the proper role of government, vs. families, individuals and other institutions.
    2. Can indulging cruel appetites in virtual reality be harmful, when the victims aren't real?
    3. Given that we already have cruel appetites, can indulging them in a relatively harmless way be less bad than suppression or acting out in worse ways?

    Obviously most

  • Ancestor Worship (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tarlss (627609) on Friday June 19, 2009 @10:16AM (#28389519)
    If China ever had a state religion, (and it did back in the Imperial days) it would be ancestor worship. The Chinese have a strong belief in the power of the dead. A skeleton shows disrespect of the dead as obviously this body was unburied and now the spirit is angry and in the world. It's sort of like consigning the person to an eternal hell. Proper burials are a big thing. It is indeed a cultural taboo, maybe like how witchcraft and wicca is taboo in large portions of America. The Chinese government, up to the Last Emperor in the early 1900's, seriously believed in the Mandate of Heaven and superstition. Supernatural evidence such as ominous dreams and the testimony of ghosts was used in court cases as late as the 1890's. The Dowager Empress' support of the Boxers during the Boxer rebellion, was based on her belief that they literally posessed magical kung fu powers- that they could deflect bullets, and defeat the colonial powers in the country. The government may have rejected superstition, but as we in America know, just because the government rejects religion, doesn't mean the whole country is not tainted by it. Replace ALL of our Christian influenced stuff with Ancestor Worship/Taoist/Buddhist synchrotism influenced stuff, and you get China. The Chinese government has long been the protector of cultural sensibilities, it's one role that the Chinese government takes on today. Cultural control is a key part of Confuscian society, not just government. Even Democratic Asian countries such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea promote 'social repression and lack of individual expression' as it were, through strict educational regimes based on memorization, and encouraging a highly disciplined and hierarchal family structure. To the CCP's credit, they've done much more for women's rights and the equal rights of minority in China (societally) than the above mentioned Asian democratic countries. The above countries harshly disapprove of things like interracial marriage and women acting outside of or neglecting 'the traditional role', and never had anything like the Civil Rights movement to change old perceptions on race/eugenics. That doesn't justify censorship of course. If they could just get with the program and institute some kind of genuine elections and government respect for human rights, then mainland China would be one of the most open and free countries in Asia.
  • Battle Zone. With the "add students" cheat turned on. Fuckers.
  • I wish someone would ban undesireable games in North America. Would have stopped me from suffering through Battlecruiser 3000 AD and Daikatana back in the day.
  • Wow, a quote from an article over a year old, a link to a /. post from 4 years ago, and the stupid skeleton thing from March. Slow "news" day I guess...
  • From TFA:

    online games are regarded by many as a sort of spiritual opium..

    Yeah sure whatever you say, China. Nevermind that your "governance" is regarded by MOST OF THE WORLD as a "spiritual depressant".

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

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