China tightens its videogame regulations

On April, 10 the gaming division of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of China (SAPPRFT) held a conference and presented an updated list of rules for video game censorship. Let’s see what changed:

Lock, stock and mahjong

Mahjong and virtual poker have been removed from the list of permitted genres because the government feels the insane popularity of such games can stimulate public interest towards gambling. This decision became a serious blow for small developer studios because such games tend to be fairly cheap in development and extremely popular with the audience. However, the players are unlikely to notice the new restrictions because the decision has no retroactive effect and no games published before 2019 will be removed.

Not a drop of blood, no matter how green

The regulations for depictions of dead bodies and blood have also been tightened. Previously the developers of thriller and slasher games could bypass the existing limitations simply by changing the color of the gore from red to psychedelic green, but now the Chinese government has banned the depiction of blood entirely in any way, shape or form. Of course, the larger companies will be able to comply with the restriction by completely disabling blood in the regional versions of their games (similar to the "children’s mode" in some western titles), but we can’t help but feel sorry for the Chinese gamers. From now on they’ll have to deal with rubber dolls that barely register being hit instead of life-like opponents or even green-blooded “alien monsters”.

Freedom to the harem prisoners!

One of the new and rapidly emerging genres – the so-called "harem strategies" – has also been subjected to harsh censorship. Thankfully, the makers of “Rise of the Ottomans” don’t need to worry: the restriction only touches upon the games set in imperial China, which may seem rather unusual until you realize this historic era is very popular inside the country and has become the “calling card” of the Chinese movie-makers. According to one of the conference participants, such games "have indecent content and are ripe with unfortunate political metaphors".
Despite everything, the results of the conference have been met with mild approval. As for the added restrictions, we only quote an interview given by a Cantonese indie developer to TechCrunch: "The Chinese developers are used to facing restrictions. Most of the time we manage to find a way to circumvent them".

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