Netizen Voices: Family Planning in Online Games

Xu Youzhen, a video game designer based in Guangdong, recently wrote on Weibo that censors require video game worlds to comply with China’s family planning laws (i.e. the one-child policy):

Xuyouzhen1 (@徐宥箴1): The administrative department requires that childbearing in our video games comply with family planning. That is to say that if you have second child in the game, we have to fine you a virtual social support fee. Piyaoyuzhenxiang (@辟谣与真相) I am not making this up. Here is the document in full, including the source and images. (March 19, 2015)

管理部门要求我们:游戏里的生子系统,要符合国家计划生育的有关,也就是说玩家在游戏里生二胎,我们得安排对他们征收虚拟的社会抚养费。@辟谣与真相 这真不是我伪造的,我这有文件全文,来源、出处、文件、图片都有,欢迎查证 [Chinese]

Xu’s Weibo post includes a screenshot of slides from a PowerPoint presentation on “ workflow” in video games:

001

Ministry of Culture Online Game Content Censorship Workflow

Internet Culture Office, Bureau of Culture Markets

December 10, 2010

Contents

  1. Putting on Record Domestically Produced Online Games
  2. Censoring Content of Imported Online Games
  3. Guide to Ministry of Culture’s Online System for Reporting Online Game Content Inspections and Scheduling Inquiries
  4. Key Points in Self-Censorship of Online Games

002

System for Childbearing

  • To cultivate players’ sense of responsibility and correct knowledge of teaching the next generation, do not create a negative influence on minors’ moral qualities and view of life;
  • Do not show obscene or pornographic content;
  • Children must not be lured into playing for extended periods of time. Do not include elements that will lead minors to indulge in ;
  • Comply with the Family Planning Law and the Law on the Protection of Minors;
  • Do not include other functions that would negatively influence minors.

System for Pets

  • Pet care must avoid keeping players online for extended periods of time. Do not include elements that will lead minors to indulge in gaming;
  • Do not include content that violates animal protection laws, including cruelty to animals. The hunting of or care for animals that are national treasures cannot be goals [of the game]. Pets cannot be used as tools of attack;
  • Do not include other functions that would negatively influence minors.

Xu has also shared the complete PowerPoint on Baidu Cloud here. He goes on in a reply to his original post about other restrictions on game content:

My company has a game called “Dream Emperor” (梦想帝王) where, as emperor, you gather renowned generals, and then you gather beautiful women to be your concubines. It didn’t pass the censors because they said China practices monogamy, so the game couldn’t have concubines. We said this is an emperor from antiquity, so he has to have concubines. It was no use. We changed the concubines to palace maids and finally passed the censors. This really happened to our company.

我公司有个游戏叫《梦想帝王》,扮演皇帝,收集名将,再收集名美女做妃子,审批时不让过,说我国实行的一夫一妻,不允许妃子小妾,我们说这是古代皇帝啊,当然有妃子,那也不行,被迫改为宫女,才通过。本公司真事。

The comment thread is full of disbelief. Some netizens ask sarcastically about how else real-world policies are honored in games. Cuizi (@啐子) wonders, “If a mother and father are both only children, they can have a second child, right?” (夫妻是独生的可以有二胎不是吗?) (Couples can now have a second child if just one parent is an only child.) Tiantiandaixiezuoye (@天天代写作业) wants to know, “When female players give birth, do they get maternity leave?” (女玩家游戏生孩后有产假吗).

Beijinghuashisanshi’erdu (@北京华氏三十二度) takes censorship to its logical extreme: “In the final game, you can only have a bunch of eunuchs fighting another bunch of eunuchs with feather dusters!” (最后的游戏只能是一堆太监用鸡毛掸子打另外一堆太监!)

Read more comments at CDT Chinese.