Chinese authorities’ attitude toward video games has been mixed, with large industry subsidies on one hand and wariness of moral corrosion on the other. At the same time, The Telegraph’s Malcolm Moore reports, the Party has also sought to harness games as propaganda tools, allowing players to learn from Lei Feng, battle corrupt officials, or liberate the Diaoyu Islands.
Liu Yang, a Shanghai-based game developer said the games with the most propaganda embedded in them had been the least successful. “The problem is that the propaganda related themes are not intrinsically popular with players and tends to push them away.
“The public today have their own judgment and criteria, and most of them do not like this sort of propaganda stuff,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prof Nie found that the Chinese players in Resistance War Online often spent more time squabbling with each other than fighting the Japanese.
“The players are easily distracted from the patriotic nature of the game and have, instead, turned the games into feuds among the Chinese resistance forces. Ironically, the internal feuds are actually closer to the historical reality than the notion of a perfectly united resistance against the Japanese”.
Propaganda gaming is not a Chinese invention. Since 2002, the U.S. has produced America’s Army, a hugely successful game-slash-recruitment tool which has also spawned a series of comic books. The game has come under fire from critics including veterans’ organizations who accuse it of exploiting impressionable teenagers.