Patriot game in battle with sceptics

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 September, 2005, 12:00am

The popularity of online games among mainland youngsters has inspired a government youth organisation to launch a game about the anti-Japanese war as a way to teach them about history.

The China Youth Online Association has teamed up with a Shenzhen-based game developer, PowerNet Technology, to create a game where players can act as Chinese fighters protecting their country from the Japanese.

'The goal of the game is to protect our own people, to protect our family and to beat the enemy,' said the association's Shawn Chen, who is involved in the project.

The game has no English title yet, but a literal translation from Chinese is Anti-Japan Online.

It focuses on the Eighth Route Army, the communist force that fought the Japanese during the eight-year war. Players have to complete certain tasks and missions, free their fellow fighters and use weapons, such as grenades, guns and knives, to defeat the enemy.

The content of the game has not been finalised, with the developers still conducting pilot tests. They are planning a launch date in December or January, still timely following the 60th anniversary of the end of the war last month.

Mr Chen said the game would not be gruesome or violent and would be suitable for players aged 12 or older.

'We are very objective with the use of cartoons,' he said. 'The Japanese have also released games on world war two. Japanese have their own game, using Chinese as the enemy. We are not targeting Japanese. We are reflecting the history. We will be responsible with history and will not exaggerate it. We will be very cautious.'

Forrest Liu Junfeng , who is overseeing the development of the game at PowerNet Technology, said it was important to educate youths about the war because some did not know what had happened.

The setting of the game will mostly be in rural areas. Urban warfare themes set in places like Nanjing and Shanghai would not be used as the Chinese lost battles in those cities, Mr Liu said.

Some scholars said they were concerned about the use of a game as a history lesson.

Gao Hong , director of Japanese politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Japanese Studies, said he could not comment on Anti-Japan Online because he had not seen it.

But he warned against the use of games to teach youngsters about history.

'If history is used in the online game, then players could participate and change the history,' he said. 'History is history. It cannot be changed.'

Wang Xuan , a Shanghai-based lawyer and leading mainland activist, said she could not comment on the game, but like Professor Gao, was concerned about the use of a game to teach history.

She said the developers needed to be very careful about what they included in the game's content.

Scenes from the new game, whose title translates to Anti-Japan Online, which has players taking the role of communist Chinese soldiers battling Japanese invaders.