New Chinese video games must follow socially conservative rules

Business & Technology

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After suspending all video game approvals for two months, new red lines for future games have come to light in a memo from a state-backed gaming association:

  • No-gos include games that blur good and evil or allow players to rewrite history — especially involving Japan or Nazi Germany.
  • Male characters must dress and act like stereotypical men so that regulators can “tell [their] gender immediately,” the memo said, specifically calling out one popular character.

The context: Calls to promote macho men aren’t new, nor is criticism of gaming. After state media described games as “spiritual opium” in August, children were limited to three hours of gaming per week. Last Thursday, 213 gaming companies pledged to censor themselves.

  • Games are far from the only type of content Beijing wants to filter: The Cyberspace Administration of China yesterday unveiled a three-year plan to create governance rules for Big Tech’s algorithms.
  • Recommendation engines will be scrutinized because they threaten “the protection of ideology, social justice and the rights of internet users,” the policy announcement said (in Chinese).

The takeaway: As with its crypto crackdown, China isn’t seeking to eliminate popular technologies — it just wants monopoly power over how they’re used.