Regulating China: "Crackdown or Censorship"?

red_star_over_china.jpg It's been a tough year for China's gaming world: intellectual property disputes, internet addiction boot camps, new government regulations, cafes and companies ignoring those new regulations, all punctuated by the occasional death-by-marathon-gaming. NBC has a roundup of this year's events, and brings up the broader issue of government censorship under the guise of keeping tempting materials out of the hands of minors and/or people who are going to game for three-days straight, then drop dead of a heart attack:

Though the rule is often ignored, Chinese gamers who want to play video games at Internet cafes are expected to register using their state-issued identity cards. These and other restrictions over the years have been part of what critics describe as a larger plan to censor the dissemination of materials deemed too racy or controversial by the government.

The larger etchings of this supposed campaign were further revealed just last week when an article in the government-owned Shanghai Daily reported on the blocking of more than 18,400 "pornographic and indecent" Web sites. Although sites were closed ostensibly to prevent pornographic material from being viewed by minors, angry reports soon began to circulate in the blogosphere that many personal blogs had also been blocked in the roundup.

Censorship in China is a touchy issue, but the wider ramifications of government control of the gaming industry is an interesting question - will the central government ramp up controls since it appears the ones introduced this summer aren't working so well? In the world of MMORPGs, what's next after insisting skeletons be clothed in flesh? What's the landscape going to look like this time next year?

Chinese Crackdown on Gaming or Censorship? [NBC News World Blog]


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