Video Games Featuring Gay Relationships and Ambiguous Gender Identities to be Banned in China

Only weeks following its ban of “sissy” and “effeminate” men from TV, the Chinese government is set to ban video games that feature gay relationships, characters with no clear gender, and “unmanly” characters, among other things.

Additionally, China plans to ban video games that fail to promote “correct values”, an “accurate” understanding of Chinese culture and history, as well as those which portray gay relationships, “effeminate men”, and characters with ambiguous genders, a memo leaked to The South China Morning Post has revealed.

“If regulators can’t tell the character’s gender immediately, the setting of the characters could be considered problematic and red flags will be raised,” the memo reads.

The memo, which first appeared in an internal training course created by a state-backed gaming association, makes it abundantly clear to gaming studios that Beijing no longer looks at video games as “pure entertainment” that’s apolitical, but as an emerging art form which – similarly to film and television – has the uncanny ability to shape culture, politics, and society.

Video games that promote blurred gender identities and same-sex relationships aren’t the only games that will be banned under the new regulations. According to the memo, games that revise mainstream historical narratives, glorify militarism, jingoism, or colonialism, and those which encourage characters to act in an immoral way, are all on the chopping block as well.  

“Games can’t distort facts or deliberately provoke controversy, and historical figures with established narratives must not be refashioned,” the memo continues.

“Some games have blurred moral boundaries. Players can choose to be either good or evil … but we don’t think that games should give players this choice … and this must be altered,” states the memo.

The news comes about a month after Beijing enacted strict limits on the amount of time under 18s can spend playing online video games. Per the new rules, those under the age of 18 are allotted three hours per week to play online video games, and only for one hour per day, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday between 8:00 and 9:00 pm.

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