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Apr 30, 2007



Hello Ian.

How familiar are you with the Chinese MMO's, portals, and games from local Chinese developers?

Is there any kind of local or ethnic spin on these?


Hello Sande. I have to admit, I am not very familiar with local Chinese MMO portals or titles, but I will offer a couple of related observations. Chinese popular culture thrives on references to the classics and dynastic history -- I've seen television dramas, comic books, and even ads for instant noodles with such tie-ins. This has already carried over to the gaming world -- I'm sure many people on TN read the reports last year of virtual demonstrations in one popular gaming environment. The title of this particular game references a classic of Chinese literature (Journey to the West) and the designers clearly paid very close attention to historical detail -- the demonstrations were reportedly spawned by a virtual recreation of a Tang dynasty mural, which some players incorrectly assumed was a recreation of the Japanese "Rising Sun" flag motif.

That said, not everyone is into period games. The last time I visited Taipei (April 2006) I did notice that many young men were really into CS (they use the English abbreviation) and Sinosplice anecdotally reports a lot of interest in this game on the mainland as well. A former colleague in Taiwan has also told me about a female relative who had an MMO addiction. I'll have to ask her what game it was, and how she dealt with it. I'll report back to this thread if I can find out more ...


Do you think there are differences between Taiwan and China?

I know that in Chinese film, the directors often do pick a historical era... It's a way of commenting without overtly commenting on social issues. Much like French cinema did during Nazi occupation.


I absolutely think there are differences between China and Taiwan, and the way mass media uses history. There are distinct national identities, thanks to historical factors, political systems, language, and local media, and these differences are often manifested in the formats and topics used in China and Taiwan. There's a lot to say about television series, film and China's Fifth & Sixth Generation directors, the Taiwanese identity, and specific historical periods and how they are portrayed in the two countries. However, considering the focus of this forum, I'll limit myself to a few comments about Internet interactions in my next comment (sorry for breaking it up, the spam filter prevented me from posting it in full) ...


(Continued from above) Issues that potentially limit virtual/electronic interaction are China's constantly evolving regulations and restrictions on Internet use in the country, and the ability of authorities to close down local websites, block individual sites or domains overseas, and even monitor traffic and messages for certain characters and phrases that the government doesn't like (e.g., names of dissidents, "Taiwan independence", etc.). These controls -- part of the so-called "Great Firewall of China" -- are only partially effective, but potentially limit the ability of local Internet users to see information that goes against the official line. Local media outlets that publish alternate interpretations of Dynastic or Republican history can be shut down, while Taiwanese and foreign sources can be blocked.

These controls extend to online games that contain offensive content. This Wired article notes some of the banned game titles in China (mostly military strategy titles) and there is a very good interview in Gamasutra with Niko Partners managing partner Lisa Cosmas Hanson about dealing with Chinese rules and bureaucracy relating to launching foreign video game titles China. A lot of official concern relates to youth morals, but there are some sensitive political, social and historical issues to watch out for:

Banned topics include that which is detrimental to state security or national unity, that which instigates ethnic hatred, that which disrupts social order, that which is obscene, and other topics.

To really understand them requires reading between the lines. For example, any game that wrongly identifies Tibet or Hong Kong as independent countries would be banned because that is detrimental to national unity.

The other issue which limits exchange between Taiwan and China are the different character sets in use in the two countries. Standard spoken Mandarin in China (putonghua, or "common tongue") is very similar to Mandarin spoken in Taiwan (Guoyu, or "national language") but Chinese use simplified characters (jiantizi) which impacts typing, search, software installation, Web design, and game design.

What this all means for game and VW developers is that they cannot simply sell and support the same product in Taiwan and China. Localization is required, and in China, special sensitivities have to be taken into account.


I also learn Chinese language by a special and innovative service in Beijing Chinese School. I like to learn in live class with teachers from Beijing directly. I also like to practice Chinese with volunteers freely everyday. Watching Chinese learning TV on CLTV is also interesting and helpful to practice listening and learn more about Chinese culture.


A good way to learn chinese is:

1. start at home with online mandarin courses
2. then study chinese in a school
3. then travel to China and once there try to find a job as English teacher (that's quite easy).

If you have more question, you can ask them on the China Forum.
Good luck!

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