China’s top gaming companies, including Tencent and NetEase, have joined forces with State newspaper People’s Daily to put forward a framework for bringing age ratings to the country’s games industry.
The draft proposal warns against allowing kids younger than 6 to play unaccompanied, while also suggesting age certificates for games that would divide them into 6+, 12+, 16+ and 18+ categories. The categories would be determined by the game content, presence of in-app purchases, and the genre.
The move, which involves 10 of China’s biggest gaming producers, appears to be an attempt to break the deadlock that has hit the industry in the past year, with authorities holding up the approval of new titles over concerns regarding their content.
The move could theoretically allow gaming companies to produce titles with more adult content for the upper age categories, but given the current censorship environment that seems unlikely. The proposal seems to stand a good chance of being adopted given the involvement of People’s Daily, often viewed as a Party mouthpiece.
If the age certificates are introduced, it will be interesting to see whether it sparks similar moves in other entertainment industries. China’s film industry still lacks such categorization for example, meaning that any movie that makes it to theaters should technically be suitable for audiences of all ages.
“Will blood in the 18+ category be black or green”, asks one of the top-rated comments on microblogging site Weibo, in a tongue-in-cheek reaction to the news. (Some companies changed the color of blood in games recently in response to censorship of gaming violence.)
Another popular comment translated the grades into: “Babies, infants, school kids, and big babies”.
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