From The Armchair: China Rising

ArmchairWhat-ho, chums.

Of all the gaming news that I’ve browsed through this week, the one piece of information that made me sit forward in my armchair with a quizzically raised eyebrow was this: China has revealed its censorship rules for console games. I would encourage you to take a look at the long and sometimes baffling list of restrictions that China feels is necessary in order to ‘protect’ its citizens from harm. The ban on anything that ‘promotes cults or superstitions’ caught my eye in particular – does this include Harry Potter? What about vampires? Ghosts? All very confusing.

I’m certainly not the first one to point this out, but it does seem a little rich for the Chinese government to come down so hard on official games when they seemingly do little about the rampant piracy and copyright infringement that plagues the country. It says something when even the Chinese military feel it’s perfectly OK to make a clone of Call of Duty (the wonderfully titled ‘Glorious Mission‘). Pretty soon though, Chinese citizens will have the choice, should they wish, of buying legitimate games and consoles, rather than ‘Chintendo Viis’ and ‘Nintendo PolyStations’.

But considering the censorship restrictions, the Xbox One and PS4 will have few games to offer the Chinese market: a quick look at the list of games released so far reveals that most of them would probably fall foul of the censors on grounds of violence. Nintendo, on the other hand, have an ace up their sleeve in terms of the family-friendly Mario games – could Nintendo’s launch into the Chinese market prove to be the shot in the arm the Wii U so desperately needs?

It wasn’t so long ago that this humble author was himself the victim of Chinese censorship. During my travels around Japan, I penned a humble webblog that one avid reader informed me had been blocked on Chinese shores. I could never fully understand the reasons behind this censorship by the Chinese authorities – perhaps they did not wish their citizens to see what a simply marvellous time I was having, lest they defected to search out the pleasures of Japan for themselves.

I wonder, is A Most Agreeable Pastime available for perusal on the Chinese mainland? If you happen to be in the Middle Kingdom, do please let us know. Although if our offerings ARE being blocked by the Chinese censors, I’m not quite sure how you would be reading this missive…

Ah well, maybe we will never know.

In domestic gaming news, I raced through the entirety of Beyond Good & Evil HD this week, and thoroughly enjoyed myself along the way. The ending was particularly intriguing – I dearly hope the much-talked-about sequel finally gets made to clear up a few outstanding questions. I also particularly enjoyed the collectible system, and unusually I went out of my way to discover all that the game had on offer rather than racing to the end – this blog post does a good job of explaining what the game system gets right (and a bit of what it gets wrong).

That’s all for this week, toodle-pip for now!

Lucius Merriweather