Battlefield 4 Hurts China’s Feelings

Battlefield 4 Hurts China’s Feelings

Electronic Arts’ Battlefield 4 has been out for some time now, but now it seems China’s got a problem with its portrayal in the game. An opinion piece in China’s patriotic military newspaper, Zhongguo Guofangbao, says that games such as BF4 portray China in a bad light and purposely mislead Chinese youth.

Now, here at Kotaku, we like China. We want the best for China, but sometimes China sets itself up for hilarity and it can’t be helped that we end up making fun of the country. We wish that would change!

Previously, China’s military news outlets have put out articles about the United States creating Spartan armour from Halo, used a deviantArt post as an example of Japanese military expansion, and called Guillermo Del Toro’s love letter to giant robots and Kaiju a piece of US propaganda.

In this latest example, the writer seems to be taking the contents of the video game too seriously. The headline of the article basically says that the game is meant to sully China’s good name across the world and mislead Chinese youth. Uh…

The latter statement is kind of funny since the game hasn’t exactly been released in China and it doesn’t seem like it will be any time soon; especially since China has a penchant for banning media that shows the country in a bad light.

Below are a few translated excerpts of the original article.

美军 t攻打中国上海,与解放军激烈交火?!这不是现实,而是游戏《战地4》中的剧情。这是一款第一人称射击游戏,以2020年中国国内局势动荡为背景,美军为了”争取和平,挫败阴谋”,在中国闹市、近海以及山脉,和解放军激战。

American soldiers attack Shanghai, exchanging fire with the People’s Liberation Army? ! This isn’t real, but it’s a game BF4. This first person shooter is set in the year 2020 where China’s domestic unrest in China is used as the scenario, US soldiers use the values of “fighting for peace and thwarting conspiracies” to cause problems in China and to battle against the PLA.

Well of course it’s not real… it’s a video game.


BF4 uses the political turmoil caused by a Chinese General as the main villain, and not only does the game have loads of uncivilised words and Chinese that makes zero sense, the game itself doesn’t make sense. Dauid (David?), a US gamer who has lived in China for three years, says: “This game makes me feel that the makers still look at China with their old preconceptions, the game is very unrealistic.”

I’m not sure if this Dauid person is real or not, but once again, it’s a video game.



Let China’s voice be heard China Public Diplomacy Association vice director Ma Zhengang suggests that to deal with western preconceptions of China, China should just continue minding China’s own business and not cause trouble for the world. However, just minding our own business isn’t enough. We need to rise up and share our China’s voice; only we have the right and power to show the world a real China. Only we can dispel the world’s misconceptions of China. Not long ago, a talk show said ,”Kill all Chinese People.” This caused Chinese in 27 US cities to protest and the host had to apologise. We should also continue to resist video game media that puts China in a bad light like EA’s 2003 game, Command & Conquer: Generals. That game was banned in China.

Wait… Command & Conquer: Generals?

The basic premise of the article was to stress the point that video games, while not real, portray China in a terrible light to foreigners and give Chinese youth an unrealistic impression of China. Which is kind of funny, since Chinese youth live in China. The article also goes back to the mainstay that Western media such as video games are tools of propaganda used to influence Chinese youth and give them Western values.

With all this talk hard talk about western propaganda and how Western games are detrimental to China, the most interesting thing seems to be the fact that the military paper is looking to express China’s voice and “clear” China’s image internationally. However, instead of following the sound advice of a public diplomacy expert to just be good and mind China’s own business, the military paper supports the idea of banning content and creating new pro-China-centric games.

New China-centric games might be a good start, but all this jingoistic talk about how games make China look bad, and banning content might not be the best for China as a whole. Banning games creates a lack of competition from grade-A international development companies, which means Chinese game makers are pretty much just making games amongst themselves, which kind of lowers the bar for what passes as a grade-A game.

Making content that portrays China in a good light is positive, I’m all for it, but at the same time all of this rhetoric just makes me believe that the Chinese establishment isn’t mature enough to take themselves a little less seriously. This sets up a double standard and a practice of hindering domestic creativity.

Of course, at the time of writing, Battlefield 4 is already available in China via the grey market, and hacked versions of the game are also available in Chinese internet cafes. The purpose of the Zhongguo Guofangbao article is kind of lost since Chinese are already playing the game — the real game at that!

扭曲事实误导青少年 国外游戏抹黑中国形象 [中国国防报 via Tencent]

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian Internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.


  • If you want an honest portrayal, start by being honest with yourself. Looking at you China.

  • BF5 – ANZACS rise up!
    Armed with .22’s and riding Armored Kangaroos and shouting “G’Day Mate!” and “Git um Bru!” all while doing the Hakka!

    As an Aussie with Kiwi friends, we’d piss ourselves laughing at that more than we’d be offended :o)

    • That would be awesome.

      But also, the BF games (like COD) are too repetitive – I want the US to be the bad guy for once. Either America gets attacked by the rest of the world because they are too big for their boots (which has been the case for a while now), or they portray the US invasion of other countries as it truly is – an invasion which the local populace needs to fight off.

        • Yeah, if this were the premise you’d spend most of the game time trying not to starve to death in the wilderness.

        • Yea – sad and true.

          But for the purpose of a game, you could have a rag-tag militia using the home advantage fighting in villages, and splinter cells launching attacks on US soil. Something different from the usual US steamroller.

          But there would probably be too many butt hurt ‘mericans complaining if a game like that was released.

      • You don’t want to sully the good name of America across the world and mislead American youth though.

  • Yeah merica always the good guys. And the movies where they are bad, the good guy is some random American who beats the rich and powerful. Same over and over again.

    • It’s called propaganda mate. The mainstream media, whether you’re talking TV, Film, Music or even Video Games all follow the same pattern in that regard.

      • It’s called knowing your audience, Americans are the largest video game demographic so making a game where America is the bad guy? Might as well file for bankruptcy.

          • There is will money to be made in selling games to every country except america. A Linux only game can still be profitable. Etc.

          • That is Definitely true, Stevo, the thing is with companies like EA and Activision being so large and on the Market and having shareholders and all that jazz, they need their big AAA titles to cater for their main Audience, which just happens to be in this case the U.S

  • Could you imagine the shit storm if a game was released worldwide depicting America as the bad guys that you kill in endless waves.

    • Well, there’s plenty of evidence of US atrocities across the world. Wouldn’t be too hard to string a protagonist (or multiple ones) through some of those events, patch some timestamps and references to them explaining where to find footage and records of the events, create a compelling protagonist with a very real and understandable desire to fight back.

      I mean… the US are very, very far from being saints in this ‘war on terror’ clusterfuck. You probably know of or suspect of a place in your town that might have a criminal in it – where the drug addicts go to get their fix? Can you imagine if some foreigners stomped into town and murdered dozens of people because your town has that guy in it? Then tell you it’s your fault for not having ejected him from your town? You’d be pretty pissed off, too. Ironically they’ve probably CAUSED more terrorist recruitment than they’ve stopped.

      Couple that with the abhorrent behaviour of PMCs like Blackwater, and audio recordings and footage of soldiers laughing their asses off because that mounted gun sawed some civilian in half, and them posing corpses in ‘humourous positions’… Yeah. Not even video game villains do that kind of sick shit that real US contractors and soldiers have been caught doing. Let alone what they haven’t been caught doing. To rub salt in the wound, they can’t even be prosecuted for their murders, either. Because that’s not in the rules.

      They call call the game, “See America, this is why the world hates you.”

    • Well it is America where their museums blatantly lie about America’s wars. Characterizing things like the Vietnam war as america doing the right thing. Making claims they liberated a million people from tyranny and stopped the spread of communism.

      America is as bad as China when it comes to the propaganda and selling lies to the people about themselves.

  • I find it hard to muster up much outrage when a repressive, single-party, totalitarian state starts complaining about OTHER nations’ propaganda.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!