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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ConsterI don't get why Amazon decided to buy this "Twitch" fellow, really. It took him ages to beat Pokemon.08/29/2014 - 8:31am
ZippyDSMleeIt goes without saying that we need to et rid of the bullies on both sides that are far worse than Sarkeesian or Quin will ever be.08/29/2014 - 8:24am
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E. Zachary KnightSo Nintendo has given gamers what they want and have fractured the 3DS user base at the same time. http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/224476/Nintendo_reveals_the_New_Nintendo_3DS.php08/29/2014 - 7:12am
Papa MidnightI could say the same about race. I certainly enjoyed being on the receiving end of this while playing StarCraft II this past week: http://i.imgur.com/mIZA1QB.png (and this is actually mild compared to what I usually see). Report players? What a joke...08/29/2014 - 12:29am
AvalongodWhether you approve of Sarkeesian's view or not, no woman deserves to be the target of that kind of harassment and it won't stop until men tell each other it's not appropriate under any circumstance.08/28/2014 - 8:44pm
AvalongodI'm guessing the twitter account was a troll, but come on, I'm sorry, it's just disgusting someone is saying those things to Sarkeesian whether serious or a joke.08/28/2014 - 8:43pm
ZippyDSMleesocial movement that is bringing most of these issue to the spot light to be nothing but trend mongering white knighting bullies who are not much better than the hateful moronic bullies on the other side.08/28/2014 - 5:20pm
ZippyDSMleereflects the world we live in while the rest is the worst stuff that should be focused on. Leaving whats reflected in the same boat as everything else that's exaggerated and skewed by media/fiction and happliy consumed by current society. I find the socia08/28/2014 - 5:20pm
ZippyDSMleemales live off the power fantasy but once you realize as a male you will never reach what fiction or media calls perfect it demoralizes you just the same. And I would not call female negative stereotypes rampant and out of control not when 70-80% of it re08/28/2014 - 5:19pm
ZippyDSMleeNot saying that there is not a difference in the treatment of males and females in media, but males are begin painted as near perfect superhumans with cliched flaws it dose as much damage to the psyche as how females are treated. Sure you could claim that08/28/2014 - 5:19pm
ZippyDSMleeNeeneko:As I said if you do not 100% belive it then you are a Neanderthal. Theres more gray to everything than black and white.08/28/2014 - 1:27pm
NeenekoMeh, the "PCism" is just trotted out when people do not know their place and dare to complain about things the speakers think are fine. How dare people complain about how they are treated/portrayed, it is not like it bother us, our feelings matter!08/28/2014 - 1:13pm
ZippyDSMleeNeeneko I do not think its against feminism but rather against PCisim’s and that most things are offensive since if you do not believe that you are a Neanderthal that beats women,ect..08/28/2014 - 12:48pm
Neenekocomplete with the standard 'she is a lying and attacking the game industry! threats are wrong but she did it to herself' comments.08/28/2014 - 11:28am
Neenekosad, but not surprising. the backlash against feminism has been growing the last few years.08/28/2014 - 11:25am
PHX Corphttp://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/08/27/feminist-video-game-critic-forced-to-leave-her-home-after-online-rape-and-death-threats/ Feminist video game critic forced to leave her home after online rape and death threats08/28/2014 - 9:43am
Uncharted NEShttp://kotaku.com/once-again-atlus-doesnt-want-you-to-spoil-the-new-pers-162782610808/28/2014 - 5:17am
 

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