China Bans Gay Relationships In Video Games

Poppy Bilderbeck

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Ban on Gaming in China - Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts

Portrayals of gay relationships in video games are being banned by China, amid efforts to further tighten restrictions on the content of games.

The new guidelines come in light of a leaked memo cited by several outlets from China’s state-backed gaming association, detailing which games will be approved for release in the future.

The country has pledged to ban the promotion of ‘effeminate males’ and gay relationships, alongside bans on video games which appear to try and change the history of imperial Japan and Nazis, or videos which feature the overthrowing of ‘barbarians’.

New Bans on Gaming in China (Alamy)Alamy

It follows the news of gaming no longer being seen as ‘entertainment’ in Beijing, according to the leaked memo. Gaming is instead seen as a form of art which is responsible for maintaining and showing ‘correct values’ and an ‘accurate understanding’ of China‘s culture and history.

Children were limited to online gaming for three hours a week in August. China created the rule in a bid to aid addiction, The Times reports.

The new ban means that characters in video games now require a ‘clear gender’. Game creators are also required to not ‘blur’ any ‘moral boundaries’, according to South China Morning Post. If a character’s gender was not clear to regulators ‘immediately’, it would be considered ‘problematic’ and ‘red flags [would] be raised’, the outlet reported.

Furthermore, games could be viewed as spreading ‘colonialism’ if they are seen to be motivating players to get rid of ‘barbarians’. If Japanese warlords are featured then games could even be seen as praising ‘militarism’ and ‘jingoism’ too. The memo stated: ‘Games can’t distort facts or deliberately provoke controversy, and historical figures with established narratives must not be refashioned.’


The choice of whether to play as someone good or evil ‘must be altered’, as per the memo.

Since July, no games which have been domestically produced have been approved. The move was announced by Chinese censors. Since June, no imported games have been approved either.

On September 8, the censors held a meeting to tell all of China’s big gaming developers about the new measures. Pornography, violence and ‘wrong value orientation’ were all detailed by the censors, with the developers told to ‘firmly boycott any ill culture such as money worshipping, effeminate males and boys’ love.’

Shenzhen-based developer of ‘red games’, Zhongquingbao said:

It’s certain that online games will be evaluated whether their content fits with the core socialist values, if they spread positive energy, and if they are conducive to fostering virtues and cultivating correct values.

Gaming Ban in China - A foreign attendee at the 2019 China International Technology Expo tries VR gaming equipment developed by Tsinghua TongfangAlamy

So far, in their latest monthly report, the Guangzhou video game industry association noted that 30,000 accounts had been removed, as per Times Radio.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]

Topics: News, China, Now, video games


The Times
  1. The Times

    China video game crackdown bans gay relationships and attacks on ‘barbarians’

Poppy Bilderbeck
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