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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Craig R.Do conspiracies ever make sense? The fact that people are now having to defend themselves against nutjob websites like Breitbart.com shows how far down into the rabbit hole we've all been forcibly dragged.09/18/2014 - 7:05pm
Michael ChandraBut when the mountain obviously exists...09/18/2014 - 5:49pm
Michael ChandraMind you, if someone makes a mountain out of a molehill with a secret agenda as motive, it'd be fine.09/18/2014 - 5:48pm
Andrew EisenOkay, so I guess I'm not making sense of #notyourshield because it doesn't make any sense.09/18/2014 - 5:28pm
Andrew EisenI'd really only count three as being "death of gamer" articles and only one as arguably going a bit far with "gamers are young white dudes" stuff.09/18/2014 - 5:17pm
Andrew EisenMost are really just a look at the crap that happened the previous day when Sarkeesian's new video came out and almost all are exceedingly clear that they're talking about the specific gamers who are being obnoxious.09/18/2014 - 5:17pm
Andrew EisenKrono - Yep, I had only seen two. I looked at the 12 you sent and while I had seen a few of them, I didn't think to count them. Some aren't about gamers at all. One's just highlighting two others. One is a Gamasutra community member blog post.09/18/2014 - 5:15pm
Michael Chandrawould clearly not apply, since they weren't used as shield. It's more "hey, just because I don't agree with you doesn't mean I'm CISWASP."09/18/2014 - 5:08pm
Michael ChandraIn comparison though, the more extreme views would be fairly countered with "you don't speak for me". But the batshit crazy people tend not to even use others as the shield to defend their batshit crazy ideas and insults, so at that point #notyourshield09/18/2014 - 5:06pm
Michael ChandraWhich is of course real silly because when there are so many horrible stories and statistics too, it's utterly irrelevant whether some don't mind.09/18/2014 - 5:00pm
Michael ChandraIn this context it would be women claiming they don't see a problem with the stuff, so stop claiming women don't like it!09/18/2014 - 5:00pm
Michael Chandra"You don't speak for me. I am not your shield. You cannot use me to defend your own opinion."09/18/2014 - 4:59pm
Michael ChandraAE, if we leave aside the falsehoods some use with the term, the idea is regarding minorities and such.09/18/2014 - 4:58pm
Michael ChandraKrono did just a bit earlier in the shoutbox prh99.09/18/2014 - 4:56pm
Andrew EisenI still don't get the what #notyourshield is supposed to mean. Who is unfairly using who as a shield for what?09/18/2014 - 4:43pm
prh99Didn't said anything about #notyourshield or it's origins. Assuming your comment was directed at me.09/18/2014 - 4:28pm
prh99Leigh Alexander is right though, no one has to cater to them (trolls). I think a lot of them would likely continue playing even if scantily clad women were omitted or protagonist was female.09/18/2014 - 4:21pm
Michael ChandraSo no, normal gamers feeling attacked was not what sparked #notyourshield and only a fool would suggest otherwise.09/18/2014 - 4:21pm
Michael Chandra#NotYourShield was kickstarted by 4chan people, so don't go and make nonsense claims about that.09/18/2014 - 4:20pm
prh99those toxic individuals conduct their trolling under. It could have easily been under the Men Rights banner etc, they are just generally unpleasant and angry people who can't stand people disagreeing with them. 09/18/2014 - 4:00pm
 

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