The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is taking censorship to the next level by cutting off its populace from gaming online with the rest of the world. Leveraging the country’s ‘Great Firewall’, they’re imposing strict new measures across any game with online functionality in response to Animal Crossing: New Horizons, of all games.
The move comes after Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong shared a screenshot from Animal Crossing: New Horizons, using the pattern creation tools to write a message that said “Free Hong Kong” and mocked Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who’s very sensitive about Winnie the Pooh, for some reason. Other players also used the game to vent about the CPP and post satirical messages. So the CCP banned the game on 10th April, and have now taken further steps to clamp down on gaming in general as an avenue for personal expression.
Animal Crossing is Fast Becoming a New Way for Hong Kong Protesters to Fight for Democracy! The #Covid_19 pandemic has halted public demonstrations, so protesters are taking their cause to #AnimalCrossing.https://t.co/A599kjlYsV
(This is my island!) pic.twitter.com/vjBhzw1nUa
— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 😷 (@joshuawongcf) April 2, 2020
Games with character equipment, chat and guild systems will now be controlled to prevent the promotion of ideas to “split up China” – translation via Reddit. Further to this, players must now use their real names instead of online pseudonyms, even for games with online functions integrated into a single player experience.
Games that used words such as “zombies, doomsday, kill, death, ghost, evil” will be prohibited, and the CCP are effectively region locking online games. Ironically, there’s some gamers who are somewhat in favour of this, as Chinese players have a bit of a reputation for using cheats and hacks in order to cheaply win in games like PUBG.
How effective the policies will be remains to be seen, but it seems certain to push games back underground after the CCP started to relax legislation surrounding gaming and allowed games consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch to be sold in the country for the first time. At the same time, they’ve ramped up their attempts to monitor and control citizens in recent years, doing things like clamping down on game streaming services like Twitch, to prevent people from watching non-sanctioned events online.