China Bans Dead Bodies, Harem Games, Pools Of Blood

China Bans Dead Bodies, Harem Games, Pools Of Blood
Decapitations and battlefields strewn with dead bodies and blood, like those frequently seen in <em>Shadow of War</em>, will not be allowed under China's new regulations. Image: Kotaku
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Getting a game released in China was already fraught with difficulties, with censors often demanding changes to models, blood, and other textures to meet morality standards. Now, some of those things are being banned outright.

The South China Morning Post has outlined the new regulations from the State Administration of Press and Publications, the government body responsible for the licensing and censorship process of all video games in China.

A conference was held earlier this month to outline the gaming regulator’s new requirements, according to SCMP and research group Niko Partners. It follows the authority’s suspension of game approvals in February, which has frustrated publishers big and small as they attempt to get their titles into the largest gaming market on the planet.

The country’s gaming sector is worth more than $US30 billion annually, with more than 600 million gamers, so anything China does can have a huge influence on developers around the world. The resumption of licenses will undoubtedly be welcome, but as Niko Partners noted, it comes at a catch – the censors only expect less than 5,000 games to be approved next year.

“The SAPP will control the number of video games that receive a license each year. Certain types of games will no longer be approved by the regulator. This will primarily impact low quality copycat games, which currently flood the market, as well as poker and mah-jong games that have been targeted in governmental enforcement over the past year,” the analysts wrote.

For one, games can no longer feature “pools of blood” or dead bodies, and they can’t change the colour of blood as developers have done in the past. The genre of imperial harem games, which SCMP notes is inspired by interest in imperial period dramas broadcast throughout Asia, have also been banned entirely.

Niko Partners reported that the following guidance has been given to publishers on how to comply with the updated application process:

  • If a game is part of a series, this must be noted in the application. If not noted, the game will be assumed to have the same title as an existing game, and is unlikely to get a license.
  • If an online game has offline content, the application must indicate that and explain the offline content.
  • When submitting a game for approval, do not include the version number in the title.
  • There shall be no images of dead bodies or pools of blood in any games.
  • Developers may not change the colour of pools of blood to accommodate.
  • Mobile game applications do not require publishers to send a smartphone with the game pre-installed for approval.
  • Publishers no longer need to submit a paper copy of the “banned words list” for each game, a digital version of the list is sufficient.

The new process will also force games within platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and WeChat to go through the approvals process, just like any other game. “Mini games that have already launched are required to apply for a license from the SAPP at the provincial level within 10 days to continue operation,” Niko Partners wrote.

Chinese authorities will also be researching and updating systems for tackling gaming addiction, with a particular focus on limiting the amount of time and money minors can spend while playing video games.


      • Without trying to sound dismissive, name a single country whose’ laws have shaped video games even slightly as much as China and explain how.

        • Germany, Australia, Japan and of course the US?
          I really shouldn’t need to explain how various laws, influence and censorship have shaped gaming because we’ve all seen it multiple times but I could if you like?
          My only point is that China make its rules for what its population can consume just like others have and will, I didn’t like it either I just find it hypocritical to get caught up in the financially driven anti China hysteria.

          • You do know he was talking about censoring a WORLDWIDE release, not localised censoring?
            Germany and Australia’s censoring of games was limited to those countries localised released versions only. Oh and those countries have since repealed those restrictions as well.

          • The worldwide release of Fallout 3 was altered (not necessarily ‘censored’ in this case) due to the game initially being banned in Australia.

          • Anti china hysteria… Bro. They literally dictate what they can consume to control and subjugate their people.

          • So do ours?

            It is what it is man, China’s recent financial growth and successes moved the US to push for a concentrated push of anti-Chinese coverage in the western media and a week later we got flooded with it, driving the hysteria to the kinds of levels we see now, almost unheard of a few years ago.
            They talk about this crap quite openly if your willing to sift through the paper work and boring as shit senate/congressional coverage.

            It’s sad that they didn’t give a shit about any of this until China started selling more phones than they do.

        • How about the United States? A lot of the influence is in the form of soft regulation (i.e. “regulate yourselves, or we will regulate you”), but it is definitely there.

          For example, while the ESRB has an AO rating, major publishers will do anything to avoid it because no retail stores will sell the game. The country has an effective ban on online gambling, which has redirected that demand to games, etc.

          • That’s not the same as the government banning a game. If you really want to create a game and release it unrated you’re free to do so. Retailers might not stock it but you’re free to sell it through your own store, website, etc.

            And it goes beyond the usual material that attracts censorship in most places (sex, violence, etc) and extends to anything that portrays China or its leadership in a negative light.

            This isn’t to say that America is some kind of shining beacon that is above reproach, because it isn’t. But to suggest that it’s somehow plumbing the same depths as China is way off the mark.

          • That’s why I said it is “soft regulation”. I don’t think any of the major publishers and retail stores are under any illusion that they could ditch the ESRB and start making/selling anything they wanted without repercussions from the government. Yes, the US 1st amendment restricts what the government can do, but they could still make trouble.

            And while it might be possible to sell an unrated game at some specialty website or shop, that won’t make anywhere near the same amount of money. If the only way a large game can be profitable is by complying with a particular ratings scheme, then large publishers will comply with that ratings scheme.

  • >China

    Choose one. The fact that one of the most powerful countries on our planet is a real life evil dystopia makes me both sick, sad and even scared beyond what I can find the words to express.

    • The USA?

      Seriously though, that’s a terrible choice to give folks when own countries and allies also choose how we receive information and propaganda to the point where we actually think we have some moral high ground to hold over a country like China.
      Feel free to name something they do that we don’t already see (or don’t want to see) from our own governments and those we ally with.
      I’m not saying two wrongs make a right, only that two wrongs definitely don’t make a right and faux morality based on propaganda is evil no matter who’s doing it.

      • where we actually think we have some moral high ground to hold over a country like ChinaJesus dude, really? We absolutely do have some moral high ground to hold over China just on political freedoms alone! I can run out into the middle of a city and shout out “ScoMo is a fucking moron!” with some spicy memes to accompany me, and nothing will happen. I can criticise the government and its staff as much as I damn well please and nobody comes to drag me away in a black van. If I was a journalist posting an article critical of the government, the government might release a statement but they don’t send me to jail. Doing big business here doesn’t necessitate me having close ties to the current government. We don’t have a president for life.

        I can go on like this but I think I’ve made my point. Are we perfect? No, far from it, we have our own problems. But pretending we’re anything like China is complete bullshit. They’re far worse with surveillance, human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and imprisoning people for political reasons. It’s not propaganda, it’s fact. This ‘whataboutism’, as much as I hate that term, doesn’t suddenly excuse China of being run by an awful government with an awful record of human rights abuses. If you’re trying to argue to the contrary, or argue that it’s okay because hey the US did x or y, or because Australia blocked Kiwi Farms, then you’re delusional, or disingenuous, and I’m not sure which is worse.

        • Yes indeed. Case in point is the Olympic games.

          There were incidents at Australia’s Olympic games of people protesting. What happened? Nothing. At worst, they were ushered back a few meters to allow people to pass through unharmed. But they WERE allowed to protest clear as day unharmed.

          In China however, there were multiple examples caught *on film* of Chinese protesters being taken by Police and by white vans, not international protesters however, just local Chinese protesters. They didn’t want anything to be seen as ‘disruptive’, however it was noted that the international protesters, were harassed conveniently by people over the duration of the games, and seemingly the same people repeatedly.

          I mean let’s not even get into the fact that China has instigated its own form of Social Media control over its people. It’s ‘social credit’ system has already banned millions from travelling internationally at this point, even hundreds of thousands from nationally, simply because they’re not deemed to be ‘viable citizens’ or ‘loyal enough’. It’s like a bloody Black Mirror episode come to life. It’ll also end up making its way outside China one day, possibly not in our lifetimes, but hey, maybe, if it manages to control a populace? After all, social media already unofficially controls our lives…

          • This is a country that banned Winnie the Pooh after a meme emerged making fun of the resemblance between the cartoon bear and their president.

            Winnie. The. Pooh.

          • China is a shit show. Extreme censorship, slavery and subjugation of its people, numerous human rights abuses, manufacturing standards which kill its people, black mirror style social credit system, public executions – the list goes on. Pandering to this madness because of money is morally disgusting. This issue with video games is a small part of a much bigger issue, and you’d have to be in denial or very naive to not see the problem

        • Oh we are very lucky in some ways but I said its nothing we don’t see done here or by our allies which frankly makes us equally guilty if we chose to ignore it, especially in favour for condemning others for doing gone same.

          They aren’t the worst for surveillance, US tops that chart home and abroad with Australia catching up on em both, we have active facial recognition, civilian data bases and social scores, we just aren’t being told directly or how those systems are being used and abused.
          Human rights violations goes to the US again, you rarely hear about them but you can always go directly to the UN and see that they lead the world in crimes, avoiding scrutiny and also covering their own arses or those of their allies.
          Political incarceration, assassination, interference and violence? Hands down the USA.
          Hacking, spying, Wars, I could go on all day.

          Now freedom of the press and censorship are a little more complicated, while China leads the way in direct censorship the western world swapped to the other template of information control, flooding the flow with missinformation and distraction, rerouting public perception via opinion and faux moral grandstanding.
          Freedoms of the press have long been eroded and curtailed via laws, agenda and how the media actually sources the news through official but indirect channels.
          US propaganda laws surrounding the media have only increased in the past decade and Australia’s press freedoms have only declined in recent years also, not to mention the monopoly of media by the rich and politically driven amounts to little more than state controlled information, it’s still individuals, organisations or governments controlling what we consume.
          Only a little research reveals we are doing the wrong direction but it’s just another dirty truth we don’t want to deal with because it’s far easier to look at others.
          We are also seeing what happens when journalists actually highlight the hypocrisy and dirty deeds perpetrated by our governments first hand, such freedoms simply don’t apply when they don’t want them to.

          It’s that kind of corruption of system that makes our own election process as farcical as the life time leader initiative since we may get a choice of leader but those individuals are beholden to the same influencers and it’s most certainly not the people.
          Those who play ball are given money and good coverage, those who go against the grain are subjected to relentless attacks or driven in to obscurity.
          We could argue about which is worse in most of these situations but when the result is the same either way it becomes irrelevant.

          Now on a personal note, at no stage was I proposing any whataboutism, I quite clearly stated it was not about two wrongs making a right but that two wrongs do not in anyway make a right, full stop.
          That was in response to the claim that you either choose China or morality, something that is far more delusional than anything I’m saying, we don’t get to hold a moral high ground if we are willing to let our own get away with the very things we condemn others for, simply because we choose to ignore it.

          If you choose to see me as a crazy conspiracy nut or delusional that’s fine by me, nothing I said can’t be found by stepping out of the comfy bubble and dealing with the red tape or boring language used to make it less appealing than gotcha headlines, click bait, unverified narratives and fear tactics.

          • Wow, that was… borderline propaganda in and of itself. All of what you posted is just a load of nonsense – “The US does this or that [citation needed], and we’re on the decline, and etc so China is fine.”

            No, it’s complete bullshit – we aren’t worse or even equal to China with freedom of press, freedom of assembly, political freedoms, or even personal freedoms. Neither is the US – even the US, with a president who is actively hostile to the media, is imprisoning journalists who are painting said president in a negative light. Despite all the “OMG FASCIST STATE!” bullshit that gets posted, groups like Antifa or BLM are allowed to engage in destructive protests. That doesn’t happen in China because dissent is punished..

            Also I can’t believe you compared a two-party preferred system, which I agree isn’t great, to an effective single party system with president for life. I’ll admit that the ALP and LNP aren’t that much different, but they are different enough, and other parties are at least permitted and could potentially have a shot (e.g. the Greens are actually gaining seats and sometimes tip the balance of power).

            …gotcha headlines, click bait, unverified narratives and fear tactics.But in China’s case, they’re not – you can go on about the US doing x or y in the Iraq War or Five Eyes and so on, and yes, you’d have a point. But it pales in comparison to China. You can’t stand there and tell me the US or Australia is as bad as, or worse than China, and be truthful. It’s complete bullshit to suggest we’re worse compared with China – just look at the list of issues for Australia vs China on Amnesty International (who I’ve chosen because they’re especially critical of all countries).

            China is infinitely worse – especially if you decide to live there. I’m glad I live in a country with comparatively higher personal freedoms, such that I can post on Kotaku criticising the state and nothing will happen to me, despite mass surveillance.

          • None of what I’ve posted is nonsense at all.
            If you want I can easily cite the scale of crimes against humanity orchestrated by the US even though it’s easily accessible and despite the fact that it kind of proves my point of how people expect information to be given to them rather than searching out the inconvenient.
            Iraq yes but Afghanistan, Syria, Iran among many others in that region alone.
            Civilian casualties, arms trading, funding bloody uprisings, supporting an endless list of dictators and their own crimes, attacking doctors, journalists, withholding aid, facilitating drug trades, creating economic collapse.
            Weaponising law enforcement, housing/community developments, creating unfair educational differences, assassination, invasion, election interference…
            I mean Jesus Christ, feel free to stop me if I’m at any stage not stating fact both historically or current.

            We have less freedoms than we did when we were younger in many areas and very few gained in that time while the media definitely has less power and willingness to report the truth be it by ownership by the rich and powerful or laws.
            Here we have the increasing usage of gag laws against the media and a massive monopoly with a well known agenda of information control while in the US, the long established Information and Educational Exchange Act among many others where the government has legalised and utilised propaganda on its own people and those of other nations in what they literally call “diplomacy”. (Not even exaggerating)
            So yeah, I do think those aspects are in decline, I don’t see how that’s in anyway bullshit.

            At no stage did I say China is fine, that’s all you mate.
            I’m going to state for a third time I was responding to the insane premise that the choice is China or morality, that’s the bullshit I’m calling out as being fundamentally flawed and hypocritical.
            I’m all for criticising China for the bad it does, that does not mean I will fabricate an ivory tower of ignorance to do it.
            That’s it man.

            I never mentioned public assembly and I’m not going to argue that one.
            All I’m gonna add is that there is a number of protests and strikes that have happened and are currently happening in China without incident.
            It doesn’t excuse the ones where people are hurt, killed or incarcerated but it does kinda kill the narrative that any kind of dissent is met with black bags and shady government operatives.
            (Neat fact, the CIA basically owns that term in the modern era and it sure as shit isn’t because they are super nice)

            And yeah, my views on the two party system are quite extreme but I’m definetly gonna stand by them, a choice of leader is useless if they all answer to the same bosses, be it political or corporate.
            Different puppet, same hand.
            (Having a fair go is nothing more than a nice warm political slogan these days, Murdoch has openly boasted about being able to make or break politicians here and elsewhere)

            Well, see you in moderation hell.

  • The new process will also force games within platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and WeChat to go through the approvals process, just like any other game

    Isn’t Facebook itself banned outright over there? Possibly Snapchat, too? Seems weird they’d bother licensing / approving games on banned platforms?

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