As a sign of China’s continuing integration into the global community, the country’s long-standing ban on video game consoles was lifted last year. This doesn’t mean Chinese gamers are free to enjoy all that modern gaming has to offer, as censorship regulations mean certain types of content aren’t allowed.
Some of the problem areas are nebulously defined, such as restrictions on games that “besmirch the image of China” or “intentionally blacken the image of the Chinese army.” A possible upcoming addition to the list of punishable offenses is a little easier to understand: no more video game characters wearing bikinis.
A recent report by the Guangzhou Daily, the official news service of the Guangzhou municipal party committee, says that a number of online game developers recently received notices from the authorities warning them about restricted content for video games.
As in many other countries, China’s most lucrative established gaming demographic is young males. Also, as in many other countries, young Chinese males enjoy looking at scantily-clad women.
As a result, one of the easiest ways to pump up sales for your new game is by featuring a nearly non-stop parade of female flesh. That gateway to success may be slamming shut, though, as the Guangzhou Daily says the notice the developers received informed them that “Game characters wearing bikinis or shorts are prohibited.”
▼ We’re guessing video game characters with bikini tops and shorts would be out too, as a “two wrongs don’t make a right” sort of thing.
The wording, which also states that “Exposing sensitive parts of the body is not allowed,” doesn’t seem to specify whether the ban is only for female characters wearing such attire, or if guys scandalously naked from the knees down are also considered an affront to public morals. If so, it seems like this would be a major roadblock for several sports titles.
▼ My God, have they no shame!
▼ Hmm….do the guys with knee-high socks get a pass?
Oddly enough, while shorts, regardless of length, are a no-go, apparently skirts are A-OK. We also don’t spot anything in the notice that prohibits one-piece bathing suits, either. By that logic Koei Tecmo should be able to sell copies of its sports/swimsuit ogling simulator Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, as long as it recodes the wardrobe selection to make it look like the game is set in the mid 1980s.
The notice, which went on to inform developers that “Bodily touching between men and women in games is completely prohibited,” prompted the following musings from Internet users in Japan:
“Wait, men and women can’t touch each other? There go fighting games.”
“Is Mario not allowed to save Peach, then?”
“Does this mean no more bikini breastplates in Chinese online RPGs?”
“I’m glad I was born in Japan.”
“I think Japanese game companies should clean up their act and produce less sexually-themed content, too.”
“So….gay and lesbian touching is OK?”
We realize software publishers have probably been left reeling by the announcement and potential loss in revenue. That said, there’s no business crisis that isn’t also an opportunity, and by jumping through the dual loopholes that seemingly allow same-sex touching and non-midriff exposing swimwear, there’s the chance to make even more money off the lucrative young male gamer market by greenlighting production of a new game that incorporates both those elements. We’ll even be so bold as to suggest a title: Lesbian One-Piece Tickle Fighter.