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#05 Video Games with Chinese Characteristics

This edition of the Middle Earth podcast takes a look at China’s video-game industry — a hugely popular business in a nation where over half the population regularly plays. In 2015, the size of the video-game market in China officially surpassed that of the U.S., making the Chinese video-game industry the biggest and most profitable in the world. Listen in as experts discuss the unique features of Chinese video-gaming culture and their implications for this constantly evolving market.

Featuring:

Ava Deng – translation manager

Ava’s email

Sebastien Francois – overseas operations manager

(WeChat ID: SebastianFrancois)

Max Wang – narrative designer

Max’s email

And, as usual, your host, Aladin.

Aladin’s LinkedIn | Aladin’s Twitter

Four main takeaways from this interview:              

从这期访谈中,我们总结出四个主要观点:

1) China already had a huge game culture in the 1990s.

中国自上世纪90年代起就已经有了规模庞大的游戏文化           

Many urban children and teenagers had the option of playing games in cheap computer bars or on devices like the SUBOR console (小霸王 – xiǎo bà wáng). The console was often filled with pirated copy of games that were sold for around $50 on the Western market. But many parents and teachers often disapproved of their child’s gaming habits, preferring more pressing things (like homework).                

很多在城市里长大的孩子都有机会去收费低廉的网吧玩游戏,或者使用一种名叫“小霸王”的设备玩游戏。通常,这种设备里都装满了盗版游戏,这些游戏在西方市场的售价在50美元左右。不过很多家长和老师常常围追堵截、把孩子们从游戏机旁抓回去写作业。

2) Time is of the essence: If you want your game to be successful in China, think mobile and quick rewards.

如果你想把游戏卖到中国来,可以考虑手机游戏以及可以快速得分的形式。   

As many Chinese players are often young people, they don’t have much time to play because of the gāokǎo 高考 or work schedules. So, unlike the gamers in the West, the gaming experience must be quickly fulfilling; there is not a lot of time to explore and learn how to master the game. Also, because most of the mobile games are linked to social media accounts, users can compare their scores with those of their friends. Right now, 57 percent of Chinese gamers play on mobile devices, compared with only 35 percent in the U.S.

目前很多中国的游戏玩家都是年轻人,因为学业或者工作的原因,他们没有太多时间玩游戏。 因此,与西方玩家不同,中国的游戏必须在短时间内满足玩家体验; 他们没有太多时间来探索和学习如何掌握一款游戏。 另外,因为大多数手机游戏都链接到社交媒体,因此游戏玩家可以将自己的分数与朋友进行比较。现在,中国有57%的玩家在手机上玩游戏,在美国则只有35%。

3) Cultural compatibility is critical for sales.

找到合适的文化土壤对销售而言非常重要。              

Many Chinese companies have difficulties selling their games abroad, as they often produce stories related to kung fu or other culture elements rooted in local folklore. The few Chinese games (like Clash of Kings) that were well received in the West had European cultural ties. So far, Western games that “make it” in China already have a good reputation and can thus find their target audiences more easily.

很多中国公司在国外的销售业绩不佳,是因为他们常常制作一些跟功夫文化或其他民俗元素相关的游戏。为数不多能进入西方市场的游戏,比如《列王的纷争》,实际上具有深厚的欧洲文化背景。目前为止,成功进入中国的西方游戏都已经获得了不错的口碑,也更容易获得受众。

4) Indie games are a hard sell in China.

独立游戏在中国艰难。           

Due to a ban on game consoles (2000–2015), and a different video gaming culture overall, Chinese players are not really into indie games. These kinds of productions are often more single-player oriented or focused on the artistic message they want to deliver. But due to a lack of knowledge about game design, and a general distrust of the Chinese public toward those kinds of projects, few independent studios manage to make a living or even finish their games.  

由于游戏机禁令(2000-2015年)的影响和游戏观念的不同,中国玩家对独立游戏并不太感兴趣。这类制作通常设计为单个玩家式,或者着力于传达作者的艺术理念,但由于缺乏游戏设计方面的知识,以及受众对此类创作普遍缺乏信任,因此很少有独立游戏工作室能生存下去,有些甚至坚持不到作品完成。

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Aladin Farré

With two degrees in movie production and Chinese history, Aladin felt it was only natural to go work as a nonfiction content producer in China. He is now a documentary project manager at LIC China (大陆桥), the largest importer of documentaries into China, where he hopes to uncover the secrets of successful international co-production. Follow him on Twitter @aladin_f.