China Forbids The Use Of English Words In Mobile Games

from the not-as-crazy-as-it-looks dept

Techdirt has run many articles about China's direct assault on Internet freedom. Indeed, its attempts to muzzle online dissent are so all-encompassing you might think it has run out of things to censor. But you'd be wrong: China is now reining in games for mobile phones, as a post on Tech in Asia explains:

A little over a month ago, Chinese censorship bureau SAPPRFT announced new rules that require every mobile game launched in China to be pre-approved by SAPPRFT (already-launched games will have to get retroactive approval before the grace period ends in October). Before the rules had even gone into effect, developers and analysts alike were predicting things could be bad, and that the rules might dismantle China’s indie mobile gaming scene entirely.
Making sure games aren't seditious in any way might be expected, but there's a rather weird twist to this latest move:
One developer's rant has gone viral in the Chinese web after their game was supposedly rejected by SAPPRFT for containing English words. Not offensive English words, mind you, but completely innocuous ones like "mission start" and "warning." "I'm really fucking surprised," wrote the developer of the rejection.

Another developer confirmed that their game had been rejected for the same reason: including English words like "go" and "lucky." SAPPRFT's rules also forbid the use of traditional Chinese characters.
The use of English here is hardly subversive. The words in question form part of a global gaming language that has little to do with either the US or the UK. The ban on traditional Chinese characters, as opposed to the simplified ones that are generally used in China, is more understandable: Taiwan still uses the traditional form, so their inclusion might be seen as some kind of subliminal political statement.

The consequence is likely to be fewer games from smaller Chinese software companies, who are less able to meet the stringent new demands. As the Tech in Asia post rightly points out:

We could be facing a future where China's entire mobile game catalogue consists only of the games produced by powerful corporations like Tencent and Netease, with no room for startups and indies.
And that is probably the real reason for this latest move: big companies tend to be far more willing to toe the government line than smaller independents, since they have far more to lose. So, as with other apparently arbitrary moves, the latest unexpected clampdown by the Chinese government looks to be yet another example of its shrewd and subtle control of the online world.

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  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 10:04pm

    This sounds like a victory for French culture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Deimal (profile), 13 Jul 2016 @ 10:08pm

    "And that is probably the real reason for this latest move: big companies tend to be far more willing to toe the government line than smaller independents, since they have far more to lose. "

    They are also far more likely to have large groups of party members investing in them. Just sayin

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jul 2016 @ 11:01pm

      Re:

      Party members!? Investing??? Never! Surely Communist Party members would never become money grubbing English speaking businesspeople!!! You're crazy!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 14 Jul 2016 @ 6:21am

    Thumbs up to the companies that put subversive words in the titles in Azerbaijani or other somewhat exotic language.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    QuantumForce, 14 Jul 2016 @ 7:02am

    Traditional vs Simplified Chinese

    What's ironic about the PRC's use of simplified characters is that they were part of an initiative started in the 1950s to increase literacy. 60 years later, Taiwan, which (as mentioned) still uses traditional characters, has a higher literacy rate than mainland China (98.5% vs 96.4%). So much for government-mandated initiatives.

    (Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/print_2103.html [speaking of government])

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jul 2016 @ 7:24pm

      Re: Traditional vs Simplified Chinese

      Considering the difference in rural populations between Taiwan and mainland China, then it seems that this initiative is performing admirably.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 14 Jul 2016 @ 8:11am

    Great Word Wall of China

    All your game are belong to us!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mobile, 15 Sep 2016 @ 1:29pm

    I am surprised why china has done that as English is the most frequent spoken language in the world. And they should never do things like that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Sep 2016 @ 4:49pm

    Chinese are really cracking down

    Censorship seems to be a never ending theme with China. Let people be free is what I say. Trying to control others is not going to do anything except limit people in the short term and create rebellions in the long term.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DailySE, 24 Dec 2016 @ 2:33am

    Mobile Games Hacks

    Hey, if you are looking for hacks for mobile games don't forget to check our website, we feature fully working pokemon go hack and the sims freeplay hack among the others. http://dailyse.com

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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