Video games already released in China or looking to gain approval in China have to deal with two other restrictions in addition to all the other censorship regulations they have to abide by: they can’t have any blood whatsoever nor can they use the Chinese word for “kill” in the game.
Fong brings word from the mainland that in addition to having to avoid games that disrupt China’s “socialist values”, they also have to avoid dismemberment, overt sexual content, bones, guts, human corpses, skeletons, and now blood of any kind. This isn’t just the red gooey kind, we’re talking about any kind of liquid being extracted from entity within the game.
“In the past, games that wanted to publish in China could get away with things like “colored” blood—as in any color but red. Now, the new rules are very clear and straightforward: no blood means no blood. That includes anything that can be imagined as blood. […]
“[…] when it came to in-game blood, developers devised all kinds of clever ways to get around the restrictions. This included changing the color of blood from red to blue, black, or white, and many games pulled off getting licensed in China with these techniques.
“Now that new regulations have been passed, blood—and anything players might perceive as blood—is definitively forbidden. No more workarounds. And as far as we know, the law takes effect immediately.”
This means that the green or white blood filters in games like Mortal Kombat wouldn’t suffice since it’s still liquid goo spilling out of the digital thespians.
This is why Tencent had PUBG Mobile overhauled and removed any kind of traces or hints at actual blood or blood effects when the game became Game For Peace. Tencent had giant green orbs added to the game when player characters get hit. They also made the characters wave goodbye after getting tagged instead of falling down and dying.
It’s similar to what Yodo1 Games had to do to Hand of Fate’s mainland release in China, which saw them remove hearts, skeletons, and any references to the undead. They uploaded a video back in 2017 showcasing how they censored the game for its release in China.
But avoiding the visual depiction of death is just one aspect of it.
You can no longer depict the word “kill” in China or variants of the word. More specifically, there’s a prohibition on the Chinese equivalent of “kill”, which is “杀”or “shā”. This would mean compounds of “shā” would also be banned, such as “shāsǐ”, which means “to kill” or “zìshā”, which relates to suicide, or “nüèshā”, which refers to assaulting someone to kill them.
Fong simply explained…
“With its new set of regulations, China has also banned the use of the word kill anywhere in a game.”
What’s interesting about this is that Mortal Kombat 11 also has similar filters in place to prevent people from using certain words related to death and murder in the game for custom name variants, even though the game is all about death, murder, and violence.
Given that Epic Games recently made the Epic Games Store available in the mainland of China, expect more developers to start self-censoring if they want their games accessible in the mainland and to comply with the Bureau of Propaganda and Ministry of Culture’s censorship regulations.
In some ways, Epic Games Store’s access to the mainland could explain why so many developers are willingly to bite the exclusivity bullet. Perhaps some of them see an opportunity of embracing the visibility they’re offered to the massive Chinese audience. Of course, it comes with the caveat that their games must comply with the regional standards. I wouldn’t be surprised if some studios started ramping up censorship of certain titles to accommodate China’s policies.
(Thanks for the news tip Ebicentre)