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24 July


China ban blood, corpses and sex in video games

The authorities of the country also limited mahjong and other card games

Photo: Reuters

/NOVOSTIVL/ The Chinese government has ended its long freeze on new video games but it is not all good news for the world’s biggest gaming market. This article appeared in the South China Morning Post.

China’s top content regulator began taking new applications for publishing online games in the country on Monday, after it introduced changes to the approval process last week, according to research firm Niko Partners.

Mahjong and imperial harem are out

China already bans violent, sexual and politically sensitive content in just about everything from TV shows to rap songs to video games. With the aim of encouraging higher quality games, SAPP just crossed more items off its approvals list: Mahjong and imperial harem.

China’s gaming market was once full of low-budget, nearly identical card and board games, where players could use real money to gamble with – in a country where gambling is illegal. Beginning last year, Chinese police launched a wave of crackdowns on online poker platforms that allowed people to play with cash.

Imperial harem games – which let players star as noble lords or emperors in feudal China and collect wives and concubines – are also banned. The genre gained attention thanks to viral online shows.

WeChat mini games now require approvals before release

In December 2017, WeChat, run by Chinese gaming giant Tencent, pioneered the so-called “mini-game” function which allows users to play games inside the chat app without having to download them separately.

But that rapid growth is likely to come to an end. SAPP now requires new mini games to be submitted for approval too. Those already in operation are required to register with SAPP’s local bureaus within 10 days.

No dead bodies, no blood pools

SAPP has banned all games depicting dead bodies or pools of blood – and there is no leeway even if developers change the blood to other colours.

Previously, skeletons and corpses were not flat out banned in games published in China but regulators did prompt the popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft to turn dead bodies into gravestones in its Chinese version.

Ethics committee, self censorship, and anti-addiction systems

SAPP said it plans to research and upgrade anti-addiction systems, which will include specifics on how much time and money minors can spend in games. The regulator also reaffirmed the introduction of a new ethics committee to evaluate games, which was first unveiled in December.

In a move echoing policies governing short video and live-streaming apps, SAPP also ordered gaming firms to establish in-house censor teams to review risks in their own games.