Red or dead: China shoot-em-up video game plays up socialist values

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - A popular Chinese video game, which involves battling other players with a variety of weapons, is showing off its red credentials after recent criticism by regulators of violent games in the world's biggest gaming market.

China's content regulator said late last month that it was unlikely to give licences to gory, violent video games that deviated from core socialist values and those that went against traditional Chinese culture and morals.

But Wildness Action, a battleground game developed by China's NetEase, may have found a solution. It has added red banners into the game with slogans such as "safeguard national security, safeguard world peace".

The state-run Global Times newspaper said late on Tuesday (Nov 14) the game had changed violent elements into "harmonious ones with Chinese characteristics" and had slogans with excerpts from a report delivered at the recent Communist Party congress.

Under President Xi Jinping, China has been on a drive to cleanse online content, from video streaming to games, to meet strict rules that ban material that is too violent or goes against Communist Party values.

NetEase did not respond to requests for comment.

However, in an earlier statement posted prominently on the game's official website, NetEase said it would act "strictly in accordance" with regulators' guidance and would tweak its games to make sure they adhered to "core socialist values".

NetEase and rival game developer Tencent Holdings dominate China's fast-growing gaming market, which is set to rake in US$27.5 billion (S$37.4 billion) in sales this year, according to gaming consultancy Newzoo.

China criticised top-selling PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds last month - a South Korea-made multiplayer game, whose players kill to be the last survivor. Wildness Action is seen as a close imitation of that game.