China Bans Video Games Depicting ‘Effeminate Males’

BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 11: People play online video games in a game arcade on September 11, 2021 in Beijing, China. Commencing at the end of August, China has announced strict measures to cut online gaming time for children under 18 years of age to a maximum of three hours …
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China’s state-run gaming association recently issued new guidelines banning video games that depict homosexual relationships, “effeminate males,” and characters that with no “clear gender,” the Associated Press (AP) reported Saturday.

The South China Morning Post first reported on the new video game rules September 29 after reviewing a “memo from a recent internal training course organized by China’s state-backed gaming association.”

“[R]egulatory review of gaming content is getting stricter and companies will have to stay clear of a long list of red lines if they want games approved in future,” the Hong Kong-based newspaper revealed.

The association instructs video game developers to stop treating video gaming as an apolitical medium of “pure entertainment.” Instead, developers should regard video gaming as a new art form and create respectable content accordingly. Video games should aim to promote “a correct set of values” and an “accurate understanding” of Chinese history and culture.

“If regulators can’t tell the character’s gender immediately, the setting of the characters could be considered problematic and red flags will be raised,” the memo states.

“Similarly, male game characters who wear female clothing could also pose a problem for regulators,” the AP observed.

The new guidelines go “beyond social issues related to gender identity or sexual orientation,” according to the memo.

Video game plots should not “have blurred moral boundaries,” nor should they present players with a choice of assuming a role of good or evil.

The regulatory association further prohibited video games that “distort facts or deliberately provoke controversy.” Games that attempt to “refashion” established narratives or historical figures will likewise face scrutiny. As an example, the association said it would ban video games found to alter the “history of the Nazis, imperial Japan, or involve the conquest of ‘barbarians,'” India’s WION news site reported on October 2.

“Any game that would promote Japanese warlords will be classified as being jingoistic and glorifying ‘militarism’, and the ones who task players with killing ‘barbarians’ will be thought to be intentionally spreading ‘colonialism,'” according to WION.

The release of the new video game guidelines follows reports on September 9 indicating that the Chinese government had slowed down its approval process for new games.

Chinese gaming regulators did not announce any new licensed video games for the months of August and September, the Post reported on September 29. The newspaper cited data from China’s gaming watchdog, the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA). Beijing traditionally approves new video games every 30 days, on average.

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