China plans to potentially relax censorship for online video games

Chinese video game makers will soon be able to self regulate their own products

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 December, 2013, 8:34pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 December, 2013, 8:52pm

China will soon be rewriting its criteria on what sort of video games are released within the mainland.

Beginning this month, China’s Ministry of Culture will institute changes in its approval process for online and mobile games, revising strict regulations on what constitutes inappropriate content and possibly allowing for a reduction in censorship, Guangzhou Daily reported.

Li Jianwei, head of the Ministry of Culture’s Internet Commerce department, explained to Guangzhou Daily reporters that the upcoming changes would make the approval process more streamlined than it had been in the past, and would allow game developers the opportunity to regulate their own products, “enhancing their self awareness and self management capabilities.”

Further details have yet to be released, but software developers interviewed by Guangzhou Daily said that a potential reduction of censorship in China’s video game industry would be ideal for business and would allow products to reach players faster.

The mainland currently lacks a formal rating system for video games, and all titles must first be approved by the State Press and Publication Administration (SPPA) before release.

Games that are deemed overly sexual, violent or politically controversial are usually denied a release in the mainland market by the SPPA, forcing developers to often make intensive changes.

In the case of Blizzard Entertainment’s popular World of Warcraft, a fantasy online game, all skeletons and undead characters within the game had to be removed or graphically altered when the title first launched in China in 2007. This was done to “promote a healthy and harmonious online environment,” according to a Southern Metropolis Daily article from that year.