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China forms video game ethics committee as part of crackdown

It's tightening its grip in the name of fighting problems like addiction.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
December 8, 2018
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Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

China's freeze on game approvals is winding down, although gamers and developers might not like what the thaw entails. The country has revealed the existence of an Online Game Ethics Committee that will screen games to ensure they're "healthy and beneficial" and address "social concerns," among other issues. To put it another way, the panel will clamp down on game addiction, sex, violence and short-sightedness. That's on top of the country's crackdowns on political dissent, of course.

The committee has already reviewed 20 games, rejecting nine of them outright and demanding changes to the other 11. It didn't name the titles or say what it found objectionable.

China might not lift the pause on game approvals until February. The South China Morning Post claims the government is instituting a licensing system, and that could take some time. Whenever it comes back, the ethics group is likely to further complicate things. Developers were already waiting months for approvals before the freeze -- soon, they'll have another oversight body potentially dictating the content of their games.

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