China will ban video games that feature gay relationships, ‘effeminate males’ or allow players the choice of being good or evil.
In a leaked memo, Beijing said it no longer sees games as ‘entertainment’, but instead as a form of art that must promote what it considers ‘correct values’ and an ‘accurate understanding’ of history and culture.
As such, the ban will also prohibit video games that involve the conquest of ‘barbarians’ or attempt to alter the history of the Nazis or imperial Japan, according to the memo seen by the South China Morning Post.
A commuter walks by a computer and mobile phone’s RPG game advertised at a subway station in Beijing last month. China has announced it will ban video games that feature gay relationships, ‘effeminate males’ or allow players the choice of being good or evil
In August, China limited children to three hours a week of online gaming in what it said is an attempt to curb addiction, with the latest ban representing another step in the CCP’s cultural crackdown, led by president Xi Xinping.
The new memo gives a series of guidelines to game developers in China, or those developing for the Chinese market.
Under the new rules, characters must have a ‘clear gender’, and plots cannot have ‘blurred moral boundaries’.
It adds: ‘If regulators can’t tell the character’s gender immediately, the setting of the characters could be considered problematic and red flags raised.’
Any games that encourage players to kill ‘barbarians’ could be thought of as spreading ‘colonialism’, and those that feature Japanese warlords will likely be viewed as being jingoistic and glorifying ‘militarism’.
‘Games can’t distort facts or deliberately provoke controversy, and historical figures with established narratives must not be refashioned,’ the memo said.
From reality TV to online gaming and even pop stans, China’s leadership has launched a crackdown on youth culture in what experts say is a bid to ramp up ‘ideological control’. Pictured: People playing computer games at an internet cafe in Beijing
On the issue of morality, the guidelines state that games that give players a choice between good and evil acts will also be censored. ‘We don’t think games should give players this choice,’ the memo said. ‘This must be altered.’
The announcement comes as Chinese censures announced that no new domestically produced games had been approved since July, while no games from abroad had been approved since June.
In a meeting in early September, the country’s big game developers were told by Beijing censors of new strict regulations on gaming content.
This includes the ban on anything with the ‘wrong value orientation’, as well as pornography and violence in video games.
Developers were told to ‘firmly boycott any ill culture such as money worshipping, effeminate males and boys’ love,’ according to The Times.
The gaming industry in China grew to £32 billion in 2020, and is seen as a force too large to not be controlled by Beijing.
In a leaked memo, Beijing has said it no longer sees games as ‘entertainment’, but instead as a form of art that must promote what it considers ‘correct values’ and an ‘accurate understanding’ of history and culture
Hundreds of Chinese video game makers agreed to ban any ‘politically harmful, historically nihilistic, dirty and pornographic, bloody and terrifying’ content.
The 213 firms, including top industry players Tencent and NetEase, promised to also enforce curbs on underage players.
Chinese authorities have in recent weeks imposed strict curbs on the country’s multibillion-dollar gaming industry, restricting players under 18 to only three hours of gaming time a week and ordering businesses to remove ‘sissy’ depictions of men from their apps.
Top firms were also ordered by regulators to stop focusing on profit and gaining fans, with enterprises that are seen as flouting rules threatened with punishment.
This has come amid a broader rollout of regulation aimed at reining in the country’s influential tech sector, including tough new data security and online privacy laws and rules limiting the power of app algorithms to shape users’ online activity.
At the same time, the country’s Communist government has gone after celebrities and music idols, blaming them for promoting ‘abnormal aesthetics’ and unhealthy values among Chinese youth.
The restrictions on game developers is the latest step in a broader culture war launched by President Xi Jinping on high-earning celebrities, movie stars and big tech owners
The firms said in their statement on Thursday that they would not place ads featuring celebrities who had ‘broken the law or were unethical’.
The companies have already stepped up restrictions on minors, with Tencent rolling out a facial recognition ‘midnight patrol’ function in July to root out children masquerading as adults to get around the curfew.
But determined young gamers continued to find ways around the rules, using gaming accounts registered in adults’ names – a practice the companies said on Thursday they would put an end to.
It is the latest step in a broader culture war launched by President Xi Jinping on high-earning celebrities, movie stars and big tech owners considered incompatible with the Communist regime.
In September, China imposed new digital rules to ensure a ‘Marxist internet’ and fight online bullying and fake news.
Among the new targets are media representations of men and regulators have ordered broadcasters to resist ‘abnormal aesthetics’ such as ‘sissy’ men, calling for more masculine representations in programming
Sites should promote socialist values and promote education about the ruling Communist Party and its achievements, according to guidelines published by the State Council.
Cyberspace must promote good moral values and encourage young people to use the internet ‘correctly’ and ‘safely’, while also improving self-discipline.
China also banned ‘sissy men’ from TV, demanded masculine role models and ordered broadcasters to stop promoting internet stars as President Xi expands his war on fame and capitalism.
President Xi Jinping has called for a ‘national rejuvenation,’ with tighter Communist Party control of business, education, culture and religion.
The government banned effeminate men on TV and told broadcasters to promote ‘revolutionary culture,’ broadening a campaign to tighten control over business and society and enforce official morality.
Broadcasters must ‘resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics,’ the TV regulator said.
They used an insulting slang term for effeminate men – ‘niang pao,’ or literally, ‘girlie guns.’
That reflects official concern that Chinese pop stars, influenced by the sleek, girlish look of some South Korean and Japanese singers and actors, are failing to encourage China’s young men to be masculine enough.
Actress Zhao Wei, who is the face of Fendi in China, was wiped from the internet last month, while Zheng Shuang was fined $46 million for tax evasion
Broadcasters should avoid promoting ‘vulgar internet celebrities’ and admiration of wealth and celebrity, the regulator said.
Instead, programs should ‘vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture.’
The Communist Party has also attacked some of the country’s most high profile celebrities over ‘scandals,’ including billionaire movie star Zhao Wei who was wiped from the internet.
Actress Zheng Shuang was fined $46 million for tax evasion, while Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu, who was arrested on suspicion of rape in August, has been thoroughly censored on the internet.
Earlier this year, Jack Ma, the billionaire owner of Alibaba (‘Chinese Amazon’), vanished for three months after he criticised the country’s financial regulations.
China sees celebrity culture and the pursuit of wealth as a dangerous Western import which threatens Communism because it promotes individualism rather than collectivism.
China’s Cultural Revolution: A shutdown of debate, dissent and free speech that left up to 20 million dead from 1966 to 1976
For ten years, Chairman Mao’s followers burned books, tore down statues and murdered millions loyal to the ‘Four Olds’ — old ideas, culture, customs and habits
The Cultural Revolution was a violent political purge that occurred in China from 1966 – 1976.
During that time, Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, tried to purge remnants of capitalism by shutting down debate, dissent and free speech.
He envisioned a ‘Communist Utopia’ with a massive redistribution of wealth – but what occurred was a 10-year campaign that brought widespread suffering and a destruction of much of China’s ancient cultural norms.
Mao pushed for the formation of ‘Red Guards’ – groups of militant university and high school students who were put into paramilitary units.
The young recruits were fed propaganda and were relatively easy to influence because of their young age. Their goal was destroy symbols of China’s pre-communist past – known as ‘The Four Olds’: Old Ideas, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Customs.
Large groups of the so-called Red Guards targeted Mao’s political enemies for abuse and public humiliation and destroyed historical sites and relics.
Pictured: Red Guards reading Mao’s Little Red Book in Beijing, 1966
The Red Guards frequently broke into homes and destroyed paintings and books. They were also required to report dissidents, and were even permitted to inflict bodily harm on them.
Universities were their chiefs targets, with the Red Guards turning into baying mobs who would publicly try to destroy those with differing points of view.
The Cultural Revolution left between 500,000 and 20 million people dead in the space of a single decade.
A Red Guard member chops off the hair of a governor during Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China in 1966