New Chinese censorship strikes out at video games


No matter how you look at it, it’s clear that video games have caused outrage at times, and have been hit by the censors on more than one occasion. For instance, controversial game Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number was banned in Australia back in 2015, while many other games such as Mortal Kombat or Carmageddon have either been banned outright or censored before release in certain countries around the world.

And as you’ll probably know already, China has some of the toughest censorship laws in the world, with the country being notoriously slow in approving games for release, while many video games never get past the Chinese censors either.

This is not about to change anytime soon either, with China recently announcing that new rules will apply before games get greenlighted for distribution in the Land of the Great Wall, as was recently covered on PC Gamer.

For instance, games that show “dead bodies or pools of blood”, will not be eligible for distribution in China. This obviously excludes the likes of Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 (a fantastic survival horror title as we pointed out in our review) due to its gore and it showing corpses and blood in many scenes. Although presumably there are plenty of bootleg copies doing the rounds in China right now, while Chinese retailers have also resorted to clever tactics in order to circumvent censorship and sell the game in the country…

But what about that old tactic of changing the colour of in-game blood to green in order to get past the censors? This has been used by games like Mortal Kombat in the past to get approval in some countries, but sadly this won’t be an option in China any more due to the new regulations.

Also, China’s new censorship rules demand that games feature “correct information regarding history, politics and law”. This presumably would leave out any video games that intertwine history with fiction, such as Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series. Some entries in the French company’s video game franchise have portrayed ahistorical scenarios (such as The Tyranny of King Washington expansion for Assassin’s Creed III), plus the hardcore violence seen in Assassin’s Creed would never make it past the Chinese censors anyway…

If there’s any positive to China’s new censorship rules, it’s the fact that “low quality copycat games” will also not make it past the censors now. If this helps reduce the number of derivative, similar-looking mobile games in China (and maybe elsewhere too) then some good could come out of the country’s tough new censorship rules (maybe).

Either way, here’s hoping that despite these new video game censorship rules, Chinese gamers can enjoy more video games at some point, and that the games industry is not as tightly controlled in China as it is right now in the future.