American McGee Sets the Record Straight on China's Game Policy

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American McGee Sets the Record Straight on China's Game Policy

Noted developer and head of Spicy Horse Games sheds some light on what it's like to create games from within China

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What form will AM's kickback take I wonder?

The definition of safety might be disputed - but I personally like the idea that the Chinese government actively works to suppress superstition and cults throughout games and media. China is a secular country and has regulation in place to maintain that. Carl Sagan would love that aspect of China (while likely hating other things, but he's dead, so hey).

He's dead so YOU SHOULDN'T PUT WORDS IN HIS MOUTH YOU JACKASS.

supĚpress verb (used with object)
2. to do away with by or as by authority; abolish; stop (a practice, custom, etc.).

I seem to recall his show being called Cosmos and not I'm Carl Sagan and I Order You to be A Smart Atheist. Educating people and forcing people to change are two different things, and the second one has a history of not working.

Or is this a Newspeak thing where you filter multiple words down into one word mandated for use in all situations?

ANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNND the conspiracy engines are already off and running.....

"Mcgee You read card now!"

*monotone* "The Chinese treat all game developers very nice."

He makes a very good point. People just don't want to believe how much power our coorporations have over us in north america, the rich make too much money off of oil and the rich and elite are the people who have sway over the government. Not the other 99% of the population that is forced to use the heavily taxed oil with no alternative even when they are out there. They are just too well entrenched with too much political power and too much money. Ragging on China because of their intolerance of seeing skeletons is literally petty if you open your eyes compared to what our corporations do to us.

I am glad i wasn't the only one who pictured American writting/saying this at gunpoint.

Kind of telling, that one named American is now working for the Chinese and loving it. ^_^

Why anyone would want to defend China's policies is beyond me. Maybe I'm just spoiled living in the US but China in my mind is a dirty underdeveloped prison forcing their people to work in terrible condition for little to no pay. Forcing women to either to have an abortion or pay a massive fine meaning having more than two children in that country is the luxury of the rich. Lets not forget the great firewall of China, and yet companies flock to China to have all their stuff made and politicians try to buddy up with China. But hey I guess you don't really need a moral compass in either of those jobs...

The definition of safety might be disputed - but I personally like the idea that the Chinese government actively works to suppress superstition and cults throughout games and media. China is a secular country and has regulation in place to maintain that. Carl Sagan would love that aspect of China (while likely hating other things, but he's dead, so hey).

Well then you're an idiot who doesn't know what it means when we talk about secular countries - it means superstition and religion have no place in government and lawmaking, not that they're "suppressed" in everything and anything.

He sounds very apologetic of a culture which, frankly, we should all be wary of. I don't mean to sound inflammatory with that statement, but if you actually look at their governments policies and practices, there is really no excusing China. For example, the case of a village being forced to move, when one man lay in the road to protest, the government overseerer told the drivers to kill him. They did. In front of his family and friends. And that's not even that uncommon a story over there. http://www.infowars.com/man-crushed-by-road-flattening-truck-on-orders-of-chinese-officials/

There's also the recent case of the young girl, ran over by a truck in the street, left to bleed to death by multiple passers-by who did not want to get involved. http://www.chinasmack.com/2011/videos/2-year-old-chinese-girl-ran-over-by-van-ignored-by-18-bystanders.html

Don't defend China and it's policies, expose them.

AldUK:
He sounds very apologetic of a culture which, frankly, we should all be wary of. I don't mean to sound inflammatory with that statement, but if you actually look at their governments policies and practices, there is really no excusing China. For example, the case of a village being forced to move, when one man lay in the road to protest, the government overseerer told the drivers to kill him. They did. In front of his family and friends. And that's not even that uncommon a story over there. http://www.infowars.com/man-crushed-by-road-flattening-truck-on-orders-of-chinese-officials/

There's also the recent case of the young girl, ran over by a truck in the street, left to bleed to death by multiple passers-by who did not want to get involved. http://www.chinasmack.com/2011/videos/2-year-old-chinese-girl-ran-over-by-van-ignored-by-18-bystanders.html

Don't defend China and it's policies, expose them.

Well, time to equate the ESRB with the US military. Apparently it's the cool thing to do on this thread.

Seriously? We're talking about video game censorship and you guys take it to something horrible and unrelated like that little girl getting run over? You equate my article with defending *that*?!

This is exactly why I started off by saying that my initial reaction was to not respond at all... because people are largely unable to see past their preconceived notations and prejudices.

YES there are *bad things* about China. Guess what? There are *bad things* about all countries. Little girls getting run over - better or worse than little girl being blown up by drones? We could do this all day.

The original article was sensationalist and factually incorrect. Or does that not matter to you because it's more fun to make jokes about me "working for China" and read stuff that reinforces your preset expectations about the world outside your borders? How dare someone ask you to stretch a bit!

Thyunda:
Well, time to equate the ESRB with the US military. Apparently it's the cool thing to do on this thread.

I fail to see how the Chinese military have anything to do with the examples I gave, since I assume that's the connection you're trying to make there. The examples I gave are of Chinese culture, which is directly linked to their video-games ratings and regulations, since guess what? Video games are a major part of culture.

Try harder.

DemonCrim:
Why anyone would want to defend China's policies is beyond me. Maybe I'm just spoiled living in the US but China in my mind is a dirty underdeveloped prison forcing their people to work in terrible condition for little to no pay. Forcing women to either to have an abortion or pay a massive fine meaning having more than two children in that country is the luxury of the rich. Lets not forget the great firewall of China, and yet companies flock to China to have all their stuff made and politicians try to buddy up with China. But hey I guess you don't really need a moral compass in either of those jobs...

Ehm:

"Why anyone would want to defend US's policies is beyond me. Maybe I'm just ignorant living in the Middle East but US in my mind is an Ivory Tower forcing other people to work in terrible condition for little to no pay. Forcing young men to serve and die in wars of which motives they don't even understand and not serving is the luxury of the rich. Lets not forget the immigration policies of US, and yet companies flock to US to have their base there and politicians try to buddy up with US. But hey I guess you don't really need a moral compass in either of those jobs..."
- Some Random Bloke

You see, opinions. Opinions and perception. I'm not saying my little rewriting of your post represents my stance on things but it is how some people perceive the US, even in central Europe where I'm from. If someone wants to demonize/idealize something (be it a country, a product or an idea) it's really not hard. We humans like to hate on stuff, you see? It all depend on what sources of information you have and how open you are to them. No one is going to tell you the truth, everyone will try to make them look better than the others. It's your job to put together the pieces and form an informed opinion. Case in point: Communism - an idea most don't even understand and never will bother to due to everyones favorite scarecrow of the Cold War, the USSR, when in fact it's as utopian as Utopia itself (and that's why it never happened and never will).

OT:
Anyway I really like what's in that interview. Insiders voice is really important but so is onlookers. Too bad some eternally neutral celestial onlooker can't weight in on any of these discussion (nope, whatever deity you worship does not count), might have some interesting things to say :)

AldUK:

Thyunda:
Well, time to equate the ESRB with the US military. Apparently it's the cool thing to do on this thread.

I fail to see how the Chinese military have anything to do with the examples I gave, since I assume that's the connection you're trying to make there. The examples I gave are of Chinese culture, which is directly linked to their video-games ratings and regulations, since guess what? Video games are a major part of culture.

Try harder.

If you insist...because you've somehow managed to equate the regulation of videogames with the crushing of protesters, as though the two are connected in any way.

Oh wait. I see how they're connected. The overseer represented the Ministry of Culture...just as the videogame regulation board also represent a separate department of the same Ministry! Oh of course it all makes sense now! I am so sorry I never saw it before. Shit, American McGee, you best stop clarifying rumours about one aspect of China, because this other aspect of China is bad! Join the motherfucking propaganda wheel with the rest of us! China bad! Everything about China bad!

Look, I have traveled in China, and even had the distinct honor or training at the (northern) Shaolin Temple in Henan, near Dengfeng.

What Mr. McGee is saying is not completely correct, and not completely incorrect. We often paint the Chinese government as this Orwellian villain, with overbearing constriction on the truth. That is not correct, China's government hardly has the resources to ban Facebook and censor Google, let alone control all sorts of information from a myriad of sources. While certain embarrassing historical events are surgically removed from their official history, such as the Tienanmen Square massacre or the Trung Rebellion in Nam Viet in 40 a.d., few real threats against free information are carried out. Hence why people like Huang Weikai and Lou Ye are still free people and can operate inside and out of the country.

What Mr. McGee clearly does not understand is how well -as someone who is foreign born- he is treated, and that many of the foreign businesses are treated with a greater latitude than the Chinese businesses. This is in order for the government to save face, as those who are originally foreign have much greater contact with foreign countries and media, as this article proves somewhat.

Chinese nationals are often the subject of political corruption as well, especially outside of Shanghai, oddly enough. In 2011, the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities held their annual conference in Shanghai, which for the 2008 games, and the 2010 international expo underwent major reconstruction and a -to put it kindly- "flushing out" of many of the more corrupt officials and administrators that it once held. But, once one reaches the inner areas of the nation, corruption and the extreme wealth difference and poverty that come with it are much more evident.

While I actually applaud China on its approach to banning extreme violence rather than worry about cuss words or pixel genitals, I worry about any kind of censorship in this form, especially religious censorship. Occult censorship is often used as a code-word for politically dissonant religious sects, while the religious practices of these so-called "occult" people are no different than their mainstream counterparts, religious sects objecting to oversight by the cultural ministry are belittled and outcast.

Keep in mind, though, that China has a wide array of political beliefs. On Chinese State TV, or CCTV, while I was there, they had an open and free discussion of wealth inequality in China on one of their forum "talking-heads" TV shows. The serious issue of masses of people not being able to enjoy China's newfound economic prosperity is a hot issue amoung the nation's communists, and rightly so. Seeing billionaires drive their Mazerati around in front of the hovels in Shanghai and Zhengzho was a real eye-opening moment for me. And in rural communities, the division between the wealthy and the poor is much, much greater.

The Cultural Ministry tends to attract hard-line conservatives, much like how many conservatives all over the world attempt to guard their cultures against change. Overall, the government of China is much more progressive, and their is an ongoing, public debate over the attitudes in the government and its priorities. The communists want government action on wealth inequity, while the conservatives want to guard Chinese culture from outside influence, especially from Japan. This is the continental divide of Chinese politics at the moment.

My point being, that with this type of media censorship, we see the Chinese government at its worst, not at its best.

In closing, please keep in mind that China is a vast country with all types of people in it. Some are corrupt or totalitarian, but most, especially outside the government's cultural ministry, are wonderful people. They just wish for the well-being of their country and its people, but have a very different take on specific ways to go about it than you or I do. What China wants most of all is respect, and I think they deserve it, being one of the oldest and most learned cultures on the planet, but there is no doubt that they go too far in the pursuit of this respect.

American McGee:
Seriously? We're talking about video game censorship and you guys take it to something horrible and unrelated like that little girl getting run over? You equate my article with defending *that*?!

This is exactly why I started off by saying that my initial reaction was to not respond at all... because people are largely unable to see past their preconceived notations and prejudices.

YES there are *bad things* about China. Guess what? There are *bad things* about all countries. Little girls getting run over - better or worse than little girl being blown up by drones? We could do this all day.

The original article was sensationalist and factually incorrect. Or does that not matter to you because it's more fun to make jokes about me "working for China" and read stuff that reinforces your preset expectations about the world outside your borders? How dare someone ask you to stretch a bit!

Welcome to the Escapist, chief. Everything is equivalent to running a little girl over.

I was writing a response to Mr. McGee when I accidentally hit the back key on my mouse and lost it all, but it's probably for the best, since I've said what I wanted to say on this. Just to clarify - I absolutely love aspects of China, its food, its history... but what I was attempting to put across here, is that it's foolish to be blind to the negative side of China and pretend like it's some kind of utopia, simply under attack from people who don't know any better.

I never once said I supported American / European actions around the world either, particularly in the middle-east, but frankly, that's getting pretty far removed from video game censorship.

China censors almost every aspect of it's media and it does so because it seeks to control it's people, we should all be aware of it and discuss it, not rationalize it. That's my argument.

American McGee:
Seriously? We're talking about video game censorship and you guys take it to something horrible and unrelated like that little girl getting run over? You equate my article with defending *that*?!

This is exactly why I started off by saying that my initial reaction was to not respond at all... because people are largely unable to see past their preconceived notations and prejudices.

YES there are *bad things* about China. Guess what? There are *bad things* about all countries. Little girls getting run over - better or worse than little girl being blown up by drones? We could do this all day.

The original article was sensationalist and factually incorrect. Or does that not matter to you because it's more fun to make jokes about me "working for China" and read stuff that reinforces your preset expectations about the world outside your borders? How dare someone ask you to stretch a bit!

That's human nature to you. I, for one, thank you for sharing your view on the subject and please don't be put off by some not-so-reasonable responses. There are some reasonable individuals on the internet. I might or might not be one of them, depending on planet alignment and space radiation.

Thyunda:

American McGee:
Snip

Welcome to the Escapist, chief. Everything is equivalent to running a little girl over.

More like "welcome to the internet". Still, the Escapist ain't as bad as 4-chan, right?
...
Right?

AldUK:
I was writing a response to Mr. McGee when I accidentally hit the back key on my mouse and lost it all, but it's probably for the best, since I've said what I wanted to say on this. Just to clarify - I absolutely love aspects of China, its food, its history... but what I was attempting to put across here, is that it's foolish to be blind to the negative side of China and pretend like it's some kind of utopia, simply under attack from people who don't know any better.

I never once said I supported American / European actions around the world either, particularly in the middle-east, but frankly, that's getting pretty far removed from video game censorship.

China censors almost every aspect of it's media and it does so because it seeks to control it's people, we should all be aware of it and discuss it, not rationalize it. That's my argument.

I'll assume you work in the industry over there, yeah?

Thyunda:
I'll assume you work in the industry over there, yeah?

...Seriously? That's all you have to contribute to this?

I'm not going to argue with you here, I fail to see the point of your posts in this thread besides an attempt to get a reaction from me. This is the only reaction you're going to get.

Stop it.

Discuss the topic and debunk my argument with rational discussion and sources, or don't respond to my posts. Simple stuff.

I think the important thing to take from this interview is simply how important perspective is. I don't doubt that McGee's statements come from being inside of China and perhaps are a little friendlier than those of others not in that position would be. I also don't doubt that he's quite right in most/all of the statements he made at least to some degree. I'd imagine the real truth is somewhere in between.

Really, the fact is China is a global power that is growing in influence on a near daily basis. It would be best for everyone to actually put down the pitchforks and make an effort to learn and connect with it. That doesn't mean you have to agree with everything they do, but at least develop opinions based more on knowledge and less on knee jerk reactions.

AldUK:

Thyunda:
I'll assume you work in the industry over there, yeah?

...Seriously? That's all you have to contribute to this?

I'm not going to argue with you here, I fail to see the point of your posts in this thread besides an attempt to get a reaction from me. This is the only reaction you're going to get.

Stop it.

Discuss the topic and debunk my argument with rational discussion and sources, or don't respond to my posts. Simple stuff.

I mask a rational argument with a mocking front. Let me explain it.

We have here an interview. A secondary source of information from inside China. American McGee is speaking from his primary experiences. At most, it's a two-stage. How reliable is American McGee as a speaker? Well, I believe what he's saying. It makes sense.

You, however, don't appear to have any primary sources to back yourself up. From your words I haven't been able to identify any role in the industry or in China in any way. What I see is a person whose knowledge of China comes from reading other second and third sources. You've been told that China doesn't censor videogames any worse than the ESRB does, and your reply was "China censors all media to control its people." You were told that China's cultural office was ridiculously demonised in terms of the videogame industry. You replied "They run little girls over."

Before you accuse my arguments of being provocation and mockery, re-read your own posts. At least mine were ironic.

why is the sale of PS3/Xbox banned in China?

Evil Smurf:
why is the sale of PS3/Xbox banned in China?

Because, China is a secular country and has regulation in place to maintain that. Apparently, Carl Sagan would love that aspect of China.....

Suppression of free speech would be the only reason that comes to mind... honestly I don't know, your guess is as good as mine.

dangoball:

More like "welcome to the internet". Still, the Escapist ain't as bad as 4-chan, right?
...
Right?

On an average basis, I'd say no. At the very least there's less blatant swearing, spamming, and naked chicks with 'no cocks allowed' being the only rule before posting.

Anyway.

PS3/360 games are banned from being sold in China? I'm really far out of the loop when it comes to world news, apparently.

Thyunda:
You, however, don't appear to have any primary sources to back yourself up. From your words I haven't been able to identify any role in the industry or in China in any way. What I see is a person whose knowledge of China comes from reading other second and third sources. You've been told that China doesn't censor videogames any worse than the ESRB does, and your reply was "China censors all media to control its people." You were told that China's cultural office was ridiculously demonised in terms of the videogame industry. You replied "They run little girls over." Before you accuse my arguments of being provocation and mockery, re-read your own posts. At least mine were ironic.

Girlfriend of 3 years is Chinese, I've been over there with her 4 times. Her family are great people, most people I met over there were, but we were far away from the cities and everyone I talked to told me stories about how the 'city people' have no morals and don't care about anything but the next paycheck.

Don't make baseless assumptions about me. I'll do you the same courtesy.

Evil Smurf:
why is the sale of PS3/Xbox banned in China?

Because the Chinese government wanted to block foreign corporations from establishing a monopoly for game distribution in their country. See retail game distribution in the US as an example. It's anti-competition, pure and simple. Same goes for why they block Facebook or disrupt Google's services here. There are Chinese equivalents and they wish to give them a leg up (well, more than that... they want to see them dominate locally then attempt to dominate globally. See Tencent.)

Interesting side effect that I doubt the government predicted is the online game industry in China today. It's massive. And all a result of an artificial barrier put in place by government. In hindsight I'm sure they like to claim success as a result of forward thinking 15+ years ago.

All that being the case, one can still acquire 360/PS3 games here. 360 games are freely available, pirated. PS3 games are brought in via Hong Kong. Both can be found in most pirate DVD shops.

AldUK:

Thyunda:
You, however, don't appear to have any primary sources to back yourself up. From your words I haven't been able to identify any role in the industry or in China in any way. What I see is a person whose knowledge of China comes from reading other second and third sources. You've been told that China doesn't censor videogames any worse than the ESRB does, and your reply was "China censors all media to control its people." You were told that China's cultural office was ridiculously demonised in terms of the videogame industry. You replied "They run little girls over." Before you accuse my arguments of being provocation and mockery, re-read your own posts. At least mine were ironic.

Girlfriend of 3 years is Chinese, I've been over there with her 4 times. Her family are great people, most people I met over there were, but we were far away from the cities and everyone I talked to told me stories about how the 'city people' have no morals and don't care about anything but the next paycheck.

Don't make baseless assumptions about me. I'll do you the same courtesy.

Right, so now we're going off the opinions from countryfolk to cityfolk. But we ARE making progress, that's good.

But come on. "City people have no morals and don't care about anything but the next paycheck."

In other news, all Welsh people have sex with sheep and Southerners are bloody weird.

I must say, this was an excellent read. Even though I don't have strong opinions on China (I simply don't know enough about the topic), it is still always nice to get a perspective that's different from what I normally see.

Evil Smurf:
why is the sale of PS3/Xbox banned in China?

Tsaba:
Because, China is a secular country and has regulation in place to maintain that. Apparently, Carl Sagan would love that aspect of China.....

Suppression of free speech would be the only reason that comes to mind... honestly I don't know, your guess is as good as mine.

What does religion have to do with a game console?

American McGee:
Because the Chinese government wanted to block foreign corporations from establishing a monopoly for game distribution in their country. See retail game distribution in the US as an example. It's anti-competition, pure and simple. Same goes for why they block Facebook or disrupt Google's services here. There are Chinese equivalents and they wish to give them a leg up (well, more than that... they want to see them dominate locally then attempt to dominate globally. See Tencent.)

Interesting side effect that I doubt the government predicted is the online game industry in China today. It's massive. And all a result of an artificial barrier put in place by government. In hindsight I'm sure they like to claim success as a result of forward thinking 15+ years ago.

All that being the case, one can still acquire 360/PS3 games here. 360 games are freely available, pirated. PS3 games are brought in via Hong Kong. Both can be found in most pirate DVD shops.

This makes more sence, This works with the fact that China has not floated their currency like the rest of the world.

American McGee:
Because the Chinese government wanted to block foreign corporations from establishing a monopoly for game distribution in their country. See retail game distribution in the US as an example. It's anti-competition, pure and simple. Same goes for why they block Facebook or disrupt Google's services here. There are Chinese equivalents and they wish to give them a leg up (well, more than that... they want to see them dominate locally then attempt to dominate globally. See Tencent.)

Interesting side effect that I doubt the government predicted is the online game industry in China today. It's massive. And all a result of an artificial barrier put in place by government. In hindsight I'm sure they like to claim success as a result of forward thinking 15+ years ago.

All that being the case, one can still acquire 360/PS3 games here. 360 games are freely available, pirated. PS3 games are brought in via Hong Kong. Both can be found in most pirate DVD shops.

If I barricade superior foriegn product to promote inferior product with home ties, what benefit do you think that could possible bring to me?

Also, welcome to the internet. Now take this box of Mountain Dew and sit in the corner and shut up. :)

American McGee:
All that being the case, one can still acquire 360/PS3 games here. 360 games are freely available, pirated. PS3 games are brought in via Hong Kong. Both can be found in most pirate DVD shops.

Have you ever been to the "Mud Market" or "Silk Alley" (not to be confused with silk street) in Beijing? that is perhaps the craziest place for "pirated" goods in China. though most of these "pirate" copies are not pirated at all, but were claimed in insurance fraud; i.e. they fell out of the back of the truck, and were supposed to be disposed of as "damaged goods," but the executives ship them off to the untraceable, cash-only shops in Beijing and Honk Kong, and take a small but direct profit from them instead of destroying them.

I bought a pair of Dr. Dre Beats Studio for 150 yuan. About $29 USD at the time. It is odd that so many manufacturers complain about piracy, but their own employees are directly profiting from insurance fraud under their nose in Beijing.

The most interesting thing about this conversation is the fact that it could not take place in the Peoples Republic of China. You can bag on the U.S., or the western government of your choice, and aside from upsetting some people and getting flamed on the boards, it's no big deal. It doesn't work like that in the PRC. And if you really want to know how oppressive the PRC is, talk to non-Chinese minorities like the Tibetans whose country is being flooded with Han immigrants and whose language and culture are under active attack by the government. Western governments, and corporations, aren't perfect but comparing them to the PRC is fairly absurd. The fact that a foreigner is treated reasonably well in a high tech industry is the norm there for obvious reasons. Don't imagine that that is the norm for other people there.

CrossLOPER:

If I barricade superior foriegn product to promote inferior product with home ties, what benefit do you think that could possible bring to me?

Also, welcome to the internet. Now take this box of Mountain Dew and sit in the corner and shut up. :)

It gives the local (inferior) producer time to build an audience and improve their quality without having to fight competition. In some industries this works - again, take a look at Tencent and the game industry here. In other cases it does not work - Chinese domestic cars are still crappy, despite the fact that the government forces foreign brand cars to be produced in local factories.

Yeah, I *know* about the Internet. I was trolling, flaming and being abused before there *was* an Internet (at least the WWW part). I think 'corner and shut up' isn't a bad idea. Going to combine that with looking at pictures of grumpy cats. :P

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