China's Latest Task: Harmonizing Social Games

December 16, 2009 -

The Chinese government appears to be expanding its control over the games industry, this time setting its sites on social games and networks, according to a guest article on TechCrunch.

When the government gets involved and censors certain content, commenters refer to the game as being "harmonized," as happened with Mafia games during the Summer. But apparently social games are taking a closer look at actions and changing language in their games in an attempt to stay a step ahead of the Chinese censors. For example, players of the popular Happy Farm now pick their neighbors crops, not steal them:

Five Minutes, the developer of the smash hit Happy Farm (the first SNS farm game), confirmed that the terms had been voluntarily changed in an interview with BloggerInsight. This comes as the government is "considering specific social gaming laws and regulations, to be enacted as early as next year ... to end the chaotic market conditions," according to ChinaNews, which scooped the story on Wednesday last week.

The article says that the government has gone so far as to spread doctored news accounts to damage the reputation of popular social games like Happy Farm.

And the threat of regulation is prompting some developers to be proactive to stay ahead of the government:

Although the SNS landscape is splintered, the government is determined to maintain control. There is no Facebook, no single dominant social network for all of China: the top 3 are Qzone, Kaixin001, and RenRen (see chart).  When it comes to games, Qzone and Kaixin001 develop everything in-house with games inspired from Facebook, while Renren has a mostly open API so it can tap into outside developers to copy games for them. All have keyword lists and teams responsible for the instant removal of “objectionable” content.

Platforms have borne the responsibility for game regulation until now, but developers may soon become practiced in self-censorship too. The new regulations will likely be similar to those for MMORPGs: a list of “do’s and don’ts” for Chinese social games, according to an industry insider. This could include age ratings or a requirement that social games be suitable for players of all ages.

The article concludes with a warning to Western game developers hoping to tap into the Chines market:

The China market is seductive, but outside game companies should proceed with caution. Foreign developers would be wise to cultivate political ties and partner with or build a local studio, as Popcap Games did. Also, be sure your games promote "harmonious social values" -- Mafia Wars need not apply.

Comments

Re: China's Latest Task: Harmonizing Social Games

Why when I hear them wanting to promote "Harmonious social games" do I hear them wanting games that promote blind patriotism?

-Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person's fear of their own freedom-

Re: China's Latest Task: Harmonizing Social Games

China is a lost cause, and a model of inspiration for Michael Atkinson.

As for China government asking for occidental developers to get more close to China´s side, I would say: "Go to hell, if you don´t like my games then make your own damn games".

With so many restrictions of what to do for that market, China is surely NOT the best market.

How long more are gonna that people to take crap from their government?

My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship): http://www.darkknightstrikes.deviantart.com

Re: China's Latest Task: Harmonizing Social Games

While I do agree that developers and publishers should give up on China indefinately, China isn't an inspiration ot JUST Atkinson. Politicians all over the world, for all the shiny language they use, would LOVE to have what the chinese government has, just they can't go for it as there would be hell to pay, though it does feel like they are trying.

Re: China's Latest Task: Harmonizing Social Games

it's not even just managing to make a game that fits the requirements that's hard. Every once in a while they make huge sweeping changes, and everybody gets to scramble to meet the new requirements.

Re: China's Latest Task: Harmonizing Social Games

Part of me is terribly amused but the outrage at China's behavior, since when you start getting into coin-op games, but the US and UK behave like this.  Complete with random sweeping changes.

In the UK there is basicly a board with no  guidelines or rules, thus 'what will get allowed' documents people people produce are little more then descriptions of the board member and what they happen to like.

In the US it is done at a state leve, with some states having just a single person deicde what is acceptable and what is not.  NJ is like that, which explains why anythign OTHER then full blown gambling machines tend to be about a decade behidn (or simply unavailable).

 
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Goth_SkunkI'm also excited for it. :306/30/2015 - 7:27pm
Andrew Eisen(Ghostbusters is my favorite movie, if anyone was wondering why I'm so unusually excited for this project.)06/30/2015 - 7:01pm
Andrew EisenI am so completely over-the-moon with excitement for the new Ghostbusters movie! It's going to absolutely destroy me if it sucks. Long wait. Fingers crossed!06/30/2015 - 7:00pm
Goth_SkunkAdditionally, the entry really doesn't have much of a point to it. It's just a long, rambling rant akin to what an angsty high-school student would write on their facebook page.06/30/2015 - 6:51pm
MonteAnd most of those viewpoints just so happen to revolve around women and topics that feminists cover, and not actual gaming journalism.06/30/2015 - 6:51pm
Goth_Skunk@DocMelonhead: First off, thanks for using an archive. Second, I would argue that Miss Alexander doesn't know the right women. Given the members of her echo-chamber, I don't find that surprising in the least.06/30/2015 - 6:50pm
Goth_Skunk@Monte: GamerGate does not focus attention on feminists; it focuses its attention on viewpoints it happens to disagree with. The fact that most of those opinions happen to come from radical feminists is a coincidence.06/30/2015 - 6:31pm
Andrew EisenBut hey, we all make bad videos from time to time. I'm certainly not going to hold that single one against her.06/30/2015 - 6:31pm
Andrew EisenAh, okay. I probably don't read their blogs or follow them on Twitter so I've never heard anything they've had to say. The only thing I know about Sommers is the video we reported on a while back and I certainly wouldn't classify that as scholarly!06/30/2015 - 6:30pm
Goth_SkunkAlso, "junior campus feminist" is a young (late teens to late 20's, hence "junior") college student radical activist (see Emma Sulkowicz as an example). This, as opposed to a more mature, scholarly feminist like Sommers.06/30/2015 - 6:24pm
Andrew EisenNo, because "feminisim" isn't a group. There are feminist groups with leaders though.06/30/2015 - 6:23pm
Goth_SkunkDoes Feminism have a leader?06/30/2015 - 6:19pm
Andrew EisenWell, maybe the SPJ Airplay discussion will be just what everyone needed and we'll all live happily ever after!06/30/2015 - 6:16pm
MonteFrankly, for those in it for jounalism, the best thnig they can do is forget GG and find a new Tag. By using GG theybring with themselves all of the baggage that comes with it, and thus no one listens to them. They voices would go farthar without trolls06/30/2015 - 6:12pm
MonteThing is with internaet movements, their is no leadership or membership which means ANYONE can define it and use it as they please. No one member gets to sayhis version is right and everyone else is wrong because his claim is just as valid as theirs06/30/2015 - 6:10pm
MonteGamergate's menaing varies from person to person. Some pretty much allign it with MRA's. Other's do it because they want to defend developers from feminists who criticize their work. This has nothing to do with journalism but gets the Tag anyway06/30/2015 - 6:08pm
DocMelonheadGoth, Take a look at this: It's old, but got a point form the "Gamers are Over" blogger herself: https://web.archive.org/web/20150530072314/http://boingboing.net/2015/05/29/all-the-women-i-know-in-video.html06/30/2015 - 6:08pm
Monte@Goth, What you just described GG to be has nothing to do with feminism, and yet GG focus's their attention on feminists. REAL examples of bad jounralism often forgotten, while feminists reamin a constant target06/30/2015 - 6:03pm
Andrew EisenSuggesting such doesn't automatically make one not a feminist. And what the heck is a "junior campus feminist"?06/30/2015 - 6:02pm
Goth_SkunkIt's fine to disagree. It's entirely another to suggest that Sommers is a proponent of rape culture or a puppet of the Patriarchy. Not that you yourself have made any such claims Andrew, but junior campus feminists certainly have.06/30/2015 - 6:01pm
 

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