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Kids compete in an Honour of Kings tournament in Wuhan in 2018. Photo: AFP

China should tighten its grip on video games that distort history, says the country’s top radio broadcaster

  • China’s regulators should tighten their grip on video games to avoid historical misrepresentations, according to China’s top radio broadcaster
  • Wantonly falsifying history is “an inferior and even harmful cultural transmission,” the commentary said

China’s regulators should tighten their grip on video games to avoid the distortion of history, according to top radio broadcaster China National Radio (CNR), adding even more uncertainty to one of the country’s strongest industries.

“Industry regulators should have zero tolerance toward distorted online games that make normal life impossible,” the commentary published on CNR’s website on Saturday said, adding that some games could “easily influence the thoughts and judgments of players in subtle ways.”

It also said that wantonly falsifying history is “an inferior and even harmful cultural transmission” and expressed concerns that the mistaken adaptation of history could warp the youth’s understanding of history, nation, country, and culture.

The commentary gave as an example a game – which was not named – that made Qinhui, a chancellor during the Song dynasty widely regarded as a traitor, a high-level character.

The remarks from China’s top radio broadcaster come amid what has become a full-frontal assault on the country’s technology industry.

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This includes recent comments from other state actors last week that kicked off speculation that video gaming could be the next target of scrutiny even as online fan clubs face a crackdown.
Investors took a recent piece calling online video games “spiritual opium” as a signal that the video gaming market could be the next target in Beijing’s ongoing crackdown on China’s Big Tech sector.
The ensuing market sell off last week saw nearly US$100 billion wiped off the value of video gaming stocks in a matter of hours, including US$43 billion from Tencent Holdings alone.
Fang Xindong, one of China’s most influential experts on cyberspace policy and now the director of the Consortium of internet and Society at the Communication University of Zhejiang, published an article in the Global Times on Tuesday arguing that stronger regulation will help, not hinder, China’s leading technology companies.

Before Tencent’s Honour of Kings went viral, it was a desperate experiment

The opinion piece mentioned an article published by “a researcher with an academy of a top Chinese internet firm”, in an apparent reference to a now-censored paper published earlier this month by Tencent.

Yan Deli, a researcher with the Tencent Research Institute, published an article warning that Chinese tech firms are falling behind their US counterparts in terms of both revenue and market capitalisation, after a growth period between 2016 and 2018.

China’s online fan clubs are also facing increased regulatory pressure, as the government tries to weed out opinion manipulation in the country’s cyberspace.

The Cyberspace Administration of China started in June a months-long campaign to discipline online fan clubs, which often show their support for a celebrity by doxxing and trolling rival groups.


Tencent narrows kids’ playing time on video games labelled ‘spiritual opium’ by Chinese state media

Tencent narrows kids’ playing time on video games labelled ‘spiritual opium’ by Chinese state media

That marked a change in Beijing’s attitude towards fan culture, which was hailed by state media a year ago as a vehicle that promoted spontaneous groups of “positive energy”.

The proliferation of fan clubs in China, which have created online tribes from millions of teenagers, partly reflects a lack of purpose among Chinese youth, said Xiang Biao, director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany.

“Rock ‘n’ roll has gone, poetry has largely gone, as well … fan clubs have been the substitute,” Xiang said.