China intends to punish dozens of online game operators as part of Beijing’s ongoing crackdown on unauthorized internet content.
On Monday, Chinese new agency Xinhua reported that the Ministry of Culture (MOC) plans to punish 36 online game operators for “disseminating pornography, aiding and abetting, and gambling.” The MOC has told the 36 operators to cooperate with law enforcement and to learn from their mistakes.
In September, the MOC launched an inspection of the online games market in a number of major cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Of 200 randomly selected games operators, the MOC discovered 36 were offering games featuring illegal content like gambling and porn, as well as content that offends the vaguely defined concept of ‘social morality.’
Chen Tong, director of the MOC’s cultural department, told a press briefing on Monday that many of the games currently available online were of low quality and had “poor social values.” Chen urged game developers to craft games that propagate “socialist core values.” Because after all, everyone knows that the kids simply go wild for educational game titles.
China’s gaming crackdown isn’t limited to developers. Earlier this month, the Cyberspace Administration of China unveiled a set of 24 new restrictions, including requiring online video streaming services to retain copies of all user data and content for 60-day periods. The changes will take effect on December 1.
The Cyberspace Administration intends to examine these caches of video content for evidence of improper promotion of banned activities, including gambling and anything else the government deems to threaten social order. Both individual streamers and the streaming services would be liable for punishment if forbidden content is found.
China’s nearly 700m-strong online users have gone increasingly gaga for live-streaming apps such as Huajiao and Inke, on which many users earn up to $100 per hour from viewers sending them ‘tips’ in the form of virtual goods.
But China’s army of online censors does its best to prevent unauthorized content from slipping through. Even in the pre-streaming days, notorious social media starlet Guo Meimei was arrested and subsequently sentenced to five years in prison for promoting forbidden gambling activity via her social media accounts.
In July, the US-based Twitch video platform responded to the growing eSports skin betting controversy by warning its users to stop promoting gambling activity, although unlike China, Twitch lacks the power to arrest and jail violators.