3
\$\begingroup\$

Noticed this recently on the Street of Rogue changelog Alpha 37 - Even More Downtown Work:

Internal

Did a bunch of work on a “Chinese Government Approved” Chinese version of the game

Now news outlets are reporting PUBG will change for China and align with ‘socialist core values’:

But, in a statement from Tencent translated by Reuters, the gaming giant says that it will go a step further and alter Battlegrounds to better align with “socialist core values, Chinese traditional culture and moral rules.”

While also mentioning:

It’s not entirely clear what that means.

and

Reuters points out that Tencent’s competitor NetEase has accomplished something similar by adding actual government propaganda to the game, adding “red banners into its battleground ... with slogans such as ‘safeguard national security, safeguard world peace.’”

Steam user ytivarg asked Streets of Rogue developer Madguy

ytivarg 3 Nov @ 4:38am

So what did you have to do to make it "Chineese Government Approved"?

to which he replied:

Madguy [developer] 3 Nov @ 5:16am

@ytivarg I'm a little wary of getting into specifics, but it's basically some text and art that might be seen as objectionable. You can draw your own conclusions (or sift through the localization folder)

  • So what exactly does it take to make a game "Chinese Government Approved" or sticking to "socialist core values"?
\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I assume it's just cultural differences. You would probably mind too if a game advertised communism and used bad symbolism. It's the same there, but with capitalism and different symbols. \$\endgroup\$ – Bálint Nov 23 '17 at 7:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ In Chinese versions of a game blood and gore are often removed. They also sometimes re-texture areas/items/characters to be less white since white is related to death in China (much like we associate black with death). \$\endgroup\$ – Charanor Nov 23 '17 at 7:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ IIRC WoW has some very interesting localization, might want to look into it. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian H. Nov 23 '17 at 9:48
5
\$\begingroup\$

The short answer is, the Chinese government disallows anything that it doesn't like. This is because there are few hard-and-fast rules on what is allowed and not allowed.

Here's a list of forbidden items according to the Ministry of Culture:

  • Gambling-related content or game features
  • Anything that violates China’s constitution
  • Anything that threatens China’s national unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity.
  • Anything that harms the nation’s reputation, security, or interests.
  • Anything that instigates racial/ethnic hatred, or harms ethnic traditions and cultures.
  • Anything that violates China’s policy on religion by promoting cults or superstitions.
  • Anything that promotes or incites obscenity, drug use, violence, or gambling.
  • Anything that harms public ethics or China’s culture and traditions.
  • Anything that insults, slanders, or violates the rights of others.
  • Other content that violates the law

An example of "threatens China's territorial integrity" would be Football Manager 2005 being banned for depicting Taiwan as a separate country.

For "harming the nation's reputation", games that depict the current Chinese government as evil and/or corrupt, e.g. Battlefield 4.

The Ministry's own views evolved over time; like many of China's other state organs, it takes a conservative (or suspicious) view of foreign influence, wary that letting in too much foreign cultural material will influence citizen's own political views and allegiance to the Communist party. This is why video game consoles were banned outright in 2000, but ultimately lifted in 2015. You might find that the same kind of content might be censored if it's very popular and published by a foreign company, but will fly under the radar if it's not popular, or published via partnering with a Chinese company.

But this list is very broad and up for interpretation; the more examples you find and study, the more you realise that the censorship is very inconsistent, and for borderline issues, it's hard to predict whether they will be censored. The best practical advice would be to steer well clear of sensitive topics, avoid depictions of politics especially w.r.t. China, and follow the government's line where appropriate.

Note that a lot of companies self-censor in an effort to avoid being censored by the Chinese government, and this often leads to content being changed or removed when they don't necessarily need to be. This has led to some misconceptions about what the Chinese government disallows, like skeletons or blood, when these are examples of foreign developers playing it safe.

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.