Gamers in Taiwan cut off from Chinese game over controversial Covid-19 term
JX3 is a martial arts MMORPG, but gamers in China and Taiwan are fighting in chatrooms over the term “Wuhan virus”
A popular martial arts game turned into a battleground of words over the weekend, resulting in the Chinese developer cutting off players in Taiwan in a dispute over free speech.
Problems between Chinese developer Seasun Games and Taiwanese partner Wanin started when gamers in Taiwan talked about the “Wuhan virus” in a chatroom for the game JX Online 3. The term is considered insensitive to Covid-19 victims in the city that was at the epicenter of the outbreak.
JX3 is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) akin to World Of Warcraft. It has 3.3 million daily active users in East Asia, according to Seasun. Of those, Wanin was handling 1.5 million accounts. But that ended on Sunday when Seasun broke off its cooperation with Wanin.
Although the commemoration didn’t take place in Taiwan, JX3 was still still shut down for three hours, with the game citing site maintenance. This apparently didn’t sit well with some Taiwanese players who used the game’s chatroom to discuss Covid-19.
The Chinese government has increasingly taken a tough stance on the term. Seasun, a subsidiary of Chinese software giant Kingsoft, decided to punish offending players by issuing 10-year suspensions. This, however, led to an avalanche of comments from spiteful users in chatrooms using the offending term.
Mainland Chinese gamers have unsurprisingly taken a different view about the JX3 event. One Weibo commenter posted that accounts from offending players should be frozen “until reunification” with Taiwan. China claims sovereignty over the self-ruled island, and has never ruled out the use of force for reunification.
For now, it remains unclear whether Taiwanese gamers will be able to join the MMORPG from local servers again any time soon. But fortunately for them, Wanin said it’s offering refunds.
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