The next stage in China’s fight against gaming addiction could ban “puppy love”

Here for the clean storylines.
Here for the clean storylines.
Image: Reuters
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Imagine a world where everyone is dressed elegantly, talks politely to one another, and has no desire for sex. This is the virtial world China seems to want its gamers to inhabit.

Chinese state mouthpiece People’s Daily’s online edition published a set of draft rules (link in Chinese) regulating gaming content for players of different age groups this week. The rules, proposed by the website and more than 10 other major Chinese gaming giants including Tencent, Perfect World, and NetEase, divides players into four age categories of those below six, 12, 16, as well as 18 and upward. Certain regulations apply to specific age groups, for example those under six are recommended to not play video games on their own. 

For gamers of all ages, however, “puppy love,” or romance between young people, could be banned from game storylines. Games should also not have plots that “encourage romance” or “hint at sexual behavior” in its characters. For those aged 16 or under, there should be no scenes that allow players to be married in the games.

The guidance also includes rules on how characters, especially female ones, should dress. Female characters should only wear “clothes that cover more than three quarters of their breasts,” while no character should “wear clothes that are inappropriate for the environment that they are in,” such as a bikini in a warzone.

The proposed guidelines, which are at an initial stage and will need to go through several rounds of consultation before they are implemented, is a further sign that China is tightening its grip on the country’s gaming industry, the world’s second largest after the US. Over the past year, Beijing has stepped up its scrutiny over concerns such as gaming addiction among minors, and content that promotes violence or ideologies that are not in line with those advocated by the ruling Communist party. As part of its efforts of regulating the industry, Beijing halted new license approvals for game producers between March to November in 2018. 

While approvals for new licenses have resumed this year, China has set new limitations on certain genres of games, such as mahjong and poker games, and games with plot lines revolving around scheming in imperial palaces.