China appears set to ban online games altogether

Dakota Tebaldi

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China already forbids Chinese citizens access to a multitude of specific online games, in much the same way as it forbids access to many social media services. Most recently, Animal Crossing was added to the blacklist. Essentially, any time that the Chinese government becomes aware that one or more of an online game's players have communicated Chinese-government-unfriendly thoughts or positions in-game, China completely and permanently removes access to that game in country and prohibits its sale or distribution.

But it looks like the Chinese government has finally come to the conclusion that this reactive policy isn't working. Citing what it calls an "authority vacuum" in this genre of games, China is in the process of preemptively prohibiting access to ANY and all online multiplayer games in which Chinese players can encounter or communicate with non-Chinese players whose speech and behavior cannot be regulated or punished by Chinese authorities - or at least in which there is no way for Chinese authorities to monitor those communications and take action against Chinese participants/recipients of the offending communication. Also being banned are games which allow players to form guilds, and games which allow players to alter or create game environments - think Minecraft, or games that allow map-editing or level creation - since players could use those tools to create what amounts to protest-art within the games (which is what happened that caused Animal Crossing to be blacklisted).

Additionally, single-player games that still require online connections will be heavily scrutinized, and China will be implementing a legal requirement that players of these games must register and log in using their real names rather than an arbitrary username.
 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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Your topic is misleading: China is cutting off the access of online games to the rest of the internet, it's not banning online games altogether.
 

Dakota Tebaldi

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Your topic is misleading: China is cutting off the access of online games to the rest of the internet, it's not banning online games altogether.
That's kind of pedantic though. Because of the way that online games are setup, nobody in China can push a button tomorrow that cuts off Chinese players from non-Chinese players in that game. To comply with the new Chinese law, it's the game developers themselves who must create and maintain a completely segregated server for Chinese players that cannot interact in any with any of their other servers that host players from everywhere else in the world - and for which the Chinese government can be granted administrative access on request. If the game already exists, a new ad-hoc server that functions in this way would need to be added. If a game company is unwilling or unable to do this, the game will be banned.

Take Animal Crossing for instance. The game was not simply "cut off" to isolate Chinese players from the rest of the world. The game is factually banned, period. Nobody in China is allowed to play it.
 

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SL will not be affected I suppose, It is no game.
 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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That's kind of pedantic though.
It is still a huge difference between banning a specific feature of a game and banning a whole genre: the first one gives the developer the opportunity to adapt and go back online, the latter one means shut down forever.

What we've got here is the first case, so those developers will obey, adapt and go back online.
 
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Dakota Tebaldi

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Come on. If it's illegal to access the game until the developer makes a change, the game is banned for all practical purposes.

Sure a game might theoretically be unbanned, later, IF the developer decides to make that change. But I'm going to wait until a real game really is "fixed" in this way and re-approved for access in China, in real life, before I treat that situation like a thing that can actually happen. In point of fact, none of the articles I've seen about this have said anything about China allowing games the opportunity to "fix" themselves after the government cuts off their access.
 

Kalel

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when China finds out you can edit land, roleplay and organize on second life they will most likely block it anyways..
 
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Noodles

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I am surprised SL isn't already banned.
 
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Beebo Brink

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Authoritarian regimes just can't help seem to help themselves. Eventually, however, they go too far and people push back. Taking away online games for an internet generation.... such a stupid, bad move. The resentment and anger it causes will be far worse than allowing people to vent a little criticism now and then.
 

Dakota Tebaldi

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I am surprised SL isn't already banned.
Apparently it IS banned in China (see Zed Fitzpatrick's post at the bottom of the thread).

The first time I learned that China was blocking games was many years ago when I played Eve Online. Since early on Eve has had a dedicated and completely segregated Chinese server, so that Chinese players could play. I remember thinking how disappointing it was, considering that at the time a big part of Eve Online's marketing was that the entire game population resided in the same "universe" as everyone else, there were "no shards". Except, well, there was a shard, just for Chinese people.
 
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Ashiri

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Apparently it IS banned in China (see Zed Fitzpatrick's post at the bottom of the thread).

The first time I learned that China was blocking games was many years ago when I played Eve Online.
And ever since operation of the Chinese shard was changed over the past couple of years, the Chinese players have been playing on the main shard via VPN. I expect that will change, especially as a different Chinese company is operating the updated shard there.