Hundreds of video game companies in China have pledged to regulate themselves, as Beijing pursues a wide-ranging crackdown on what it considers to be negative elements in the tech and entertainment sectors.
Giants like Tencent, iQiyi, and Netease are among the 213 companies to have signed a statement published by the state-backed Chinese Gaming Industry Group Committee. The pledge, which is not legally binding, is largely in line with recent edicts from the government.
The signatories commit to curbing gaming addiction, such as by using facial recognition software to identify minors. In August, the government introduced rules that forbid children from playing games for more than three hours a week.
The companies also vowed to ban the kind of content authorities have denounced, such as “sissy men,” “gay love,” “money worship,” and anything seen as “politically harmful” or “historically nihilistic.” Beijing’s efforts to police morality extends to film and tv: last week, the country’s broadcasting authority called on networks and streamers to show only “excellent cartoons” that “promote truth, goodness, and beauty.”
As part of their pledge, the companies say they will “resolutely boycott circumventing regulatory procedures and using overseas gaming platforms to provide services to domestic users.” Foreign companies like Steam currently operate in the country, presenting potential loopholes in the ever-tightening rules.
The industry has been under fire for months. In early August, a state-run paper said online video games had become a “spiritual opium worth hundreds of billions.” Tencent’s Honor of Kings was singled out, and the company subsequently announced restrictions on how long minors could play its online games, presaging the sweeping rules that later came into effect.
Chinese game properties aren’t only relevant in China. Honor of Kings is inspired by the popular online game League of Legends, which is developed and published by the Tencent-owned Riot Games. An animated series based on League of Legends titled Arcane will come to Netflix later this year.
Image at top: “Honor of Kings”