Category: What Happened?

Are we studying or copying from other games?

Here is a teaser from one of the latest Chinese action game named  Kung Fu Strike

id_XMzQzNDQ3Mzky.html (I can only find this video on the Chinese site, surprisingly it was not on Youtube)

Here is a teaser from Capcom’s StreetFighterIV

You might find these two videos are similar in some aspects, especially the visual effect of Asian traditional painting. The similarity between the two teasers revealed Chinese gamers’ perception of domestically-made video games: we make our own work by copying from others. However I think it seems unfair for Chinese games. I admit the similarity, but I considered it as a gesture of following the trend in the industry and a studying process.

Take a look at these two pictures

A snapshot from video game XIII

A snapshot from video game XIII

A snapshot from video game Borderlands

A snapshot from video game Borderlands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two games all applied the visual effect of “cartoonization” (pardon my English, If there is a better word, let me know). Yet no one was accusing one copying another.

The concept of iron sight was first introduced by Vietcong

The concept of iron sight was first introduced by Vietcong

FPS game Vietcong was among the first few games that introduced the concept of iron sight to the FPS genre, then the concept is used by games such as Flashpoint, Call of Duty and eventually nearly every FPS games on the market. Yet no one was accusing the “stealing of concept either”.

Do you see where I am getting at? sometimes borrowing a concept isn’t copying or stealing, If the developers can implement the concept/features well into their own game, it definitely makes the game a better one. Others are doing it, and we should do it as well, for the sake of making better and better games. If the gamers feel the need to critique, they need to focus on the application of these concepts instead of the act itself. After all every one deserves to learn, and they need to learn from others’s work.

Advertisements

Gaming History in China 101: Gaming Related Crime in China: Was It the Media or Was It Us?

Gaming Related Crimes in China

people are affected both ways by the repetitive exposure of gaming related crimes in China

media exposure of gaming related crimes is nothing new to Chinese gamers. It goes like this:

” ______(insert a name) is a college/middle school student in_____( insert city name in China) who likes to play______( enter a popular MMO games) in Internet Cafes. ______(Insert date)____(insert name) went to play games in the Internet Cafe and ran out of money,s/he decide to go on to the streets and rob/kill someone for money so s/he could continue play games. _____(insert another name), a(n)_____(insert working title) at _____(insert company name) was robbed/killed by_____(insert the name you choose in the first blank)….”

Normally when I’m browsing a Chinese gaming site, I couldn’t care less when there is a news reporting gaming related crime. Not that I’m apathetic, it’s just that these news are all the same: same scenario, same reason and same outcome.

Given our perception of the propaganda-like media outlet we have in China, it is very easy for us to assume that the “news” were shaped to be the same or even created by the media to serve a purpose. That’s why they are all the same to us.

But then I begin to wonder: What if the crime were really the same and the media didn’t shape the information at all? No matter what the answer is, games (online games specifically) and are to blame, every time when there is a gaming related crime. Both the media and the crime suspects blame the games for being “very addictive”.

I think the media and the crime suspects  shares the blame regarding game related crimes, thus here are some more questions I came up with.

1. If a teenager choose to rob/kill others for money so s/he can play his/her MMO:

Why is s/he out of money? Normally going to an Internet cafe costs 3RMB(0.5 USD)/Hr, it’s relatively cheap. Either the kid’s family is going through financial hardships (the media should cover that) or the kid spent his/her pocket money unwisely (parents should educate their kids on how to spent money)

why did s/he spent all his/her money on games?

please refer to the second half of the answer above. (get your education going moms and dads!)

Why did s/he choose to rob/kill someone instead of going home and call it a day?

You can say that gaming is addictive, but it is not THAT addictive. If gaming is very addictive to you, well, either you should change your attitudes towards gaming or games is just not for you.

2. If a teenager can easily rob/kill some one on the streets:

To the media: why don’t you focus more on the lack of police patrol on the streets instead of the games s/he is playing?

To the kid: Killing and Robbing is wrong. It might be easy given the poor safety standard in your neighborhood, but that doesn’t justify your behavior, oh no, being a kid who likes to play games doesn’t help.

All I’m saying is, It’s not the games’ fault and the demonizing of games and gamers are ridiculous. (I’m a gamer but all I do recently besides playing game is writing blog posts with grammar mistakes, being a gamer does not make me a bad person). Gaming related crimes are called such only because the people involved are gamers, nothing more than that. Instead of focusing on demonizing the games, both the media and the public should focus more on the social issues revealed by such crimes.

Gaming history in China 101, Pt. 3: What keeps us from buying the games? (Continued).

If you can recall from one of my past posts. I gave a brief explanation of why Chinese gamers won’t pay for the copyrighted video games.

Today I seeks to find out more factors that keeps Chinese gamers from buying the games and here they are:

1. Uncertainty about the game quality

You have the will to do this but you can’t afford to do so.

You’ve seen the trailers, you’ve seen the promo ads and you’ve seen the celebrities endorsing the games. Now, imagine that you buy the game and you realize that it sucks or not your thing by the first 10 minutes of playing. in the meantime, you realized that the $59.99 (or the equivalent value in Chinese currency) you just spent is in vain. Will you be having second thoughts when you see another new game being promoted?

2. Uncertainty about the games’ hardware requirements

Enough said

Given the situation in China, most gamers play video games on their PCs, therefore their gaming experiences are solely depending on their computers’ performances. Now Imagine this, you brought a game, you installed it, and what’s ahead of you is the numerous time of lagging and freezing due to your outdated hardware. Or even worth, your computer won’t even let you finish the installing process, now you don’t even have an opportunity to find out whether the game you bought sucks or not.

3. No demos

the gesture which Chinese gamers would definitely appreciate turned out to be “a waste of time and money”

If a demo version of the games were provided (like they used to, ages ago), gamers would have the opportunity to find out if the games match their tastes or if their computers are capable of running the game, without paying the seemingly high prices. However, game developers/distributors/retailers decided that releasing demo versions for the gamers is a waste of both their time and money. Then what happened? Please refer back to the last two bullets.

4. Geographical restrictions

Sorry, we don’t sell that to your country.

This one might have been one of the chicken and egg dilemma. Which started first? The piracy or the restrictions? All I know is that big companies like EA and Activition Blizzard are not considering China as their market segments when it comes to PC games, which in a sense encouraged piracy of gaming in China: with the power if Internet, Chinese gamers are also being updated about new games, they want to play the games as well but there is no place to buy the games in China, thus it seems like there is no better alternatives for them to download the games illegally.

5.  Pirated games are free for most of the time

Need I say more?

Instead of trying out the demo for a limited time, pirated games allows Chinese gamers to play the whole games without paying. Again, who doesn’t like free stuff? Moreover, there is a trending mentality among Chinese gamers that, big gaming companies couldn’t care less about the so called “loss” caused by pirated games in China because they are just filthy rich. Well, this might be true to the big names, but in the meantime, small studio suffers, due to the cost of developing the games and the lacking of generated revenue.

 

Those are the major reasons that I concluded with my friends (Thank you!). If there is anything that’s left out, let me know in the comment.

Gaming history in China 101, Pt. 2: What keeps us from buying the games?

I will pass this time, sorry guys…

Recent rumors indicated that Diablo 3 won’t be sold in China, Chinese gamers were irritated by this rumor and started to accuse the company Blizzard and the Chinese distributor NetEase. However, should they be blamed, should they carry the reputation of being money-driven?

Although I can’t recall the time when they started to “ban” games in China, my most recent memory of paying for a game in China was the time when the first Call of Duty came out. I paid 60 RMB for it (approx. 10 USD), I failed to install it into my computer for the first time and asked for a replacement from the retailer, finally I started playing it after 3 days.

Ah the good old times

You may ask how I can remember that after all these years. Well, it is a good game of course; other than that, it took me a long time to find an official retailer; last but not least, it was the last time I’ve ever paid for a copyrighted game in China.

So what keeps me and people of my generation from buying the games in China? It’s a no brainer, the notorious issue of piracy in China. You can play a pirated game for free by simply downloading a cracked version of the game. It’s not that we’re poor and we cannot afford to buy games. If you ever have a chance to go to Time Square around Black Friday, you will be amazed by the Chinese consumers lining up in front of the cashiers of luxury brands, therefore economic wellbeing is never the issue. But why don’t we pay for games? Hey, who would pay for a game when given the option of getting it for free?

Of course there used to be restrictions reacting to the non-copy issues such as the CD-Key system and later the Steam platform and Origin platform. The ideal was to encrypt the games so that they cannot be replicated illegally, but Chinese gamers always go beyond estimation. CD-Key generators, cracked version of Steam games, just name it, we can make it happen.

Now do you think that abandoning the Chinese market is the gaming companies’ fault? Probably not, Gaming companies are in business as well and no company would like to operate on a loss (e.g. budgeting huge amount of money in promotion and distribution only to find out that gamers are playing your games for free).

We now have gaming websites aiming to provide p2p sources for gamers to download. Ironically, these websites often publishes articles on how we should not download non-copyrighted games for free. It’s difficult to figure out whether this kind of game websites is being pretentious or desperate, but it is easy to notice that the articles are not moving the gamers.

If I was to analyze the situation from a very, very basic PR approach, I’d say that Chinese gamers are fully aware of the non-copyrighted gaming issue. However, the attitudes toward the issue are neutral/positive: either they don’t really care or they are satisfied with the way it is right now.

This is hard, especially when you’re going against free stuff. But there are still possibilities to change this kind of attitude (I suppose):

(The following bullets contains messages and tactics suggestions and they are not in particular order)

1.Emphasizing on the benefits of being a gamer who pays

If you want them to buy the game instead of downloading it, there better be some really good perks along with the games: content packs, redeem codes for bonus weapon/items/gears What have you, throw out free stuff might give you a chance to sell a game that is not intended to be free

2. Emphasizing on the disadvantage of being a gamer who doesn’t pay

One of the successful examples I can think of is the Serious Sam HD. The developers did not put too much effort on encrypting the game (maybe they know it’s pointless?), instead, they worked something out in the content. If you get a pirated copy of the Serious Same, you can play it like other regular games do, but you would engage a red scorpion with a machine gun on its tail and won’t stop hunting you at some point of the game. And yes, it’s undefeatable. Eventually you’ll get frustrated and give up the game, and hopefully, if you are still interest in the game, you might go buy a copyrighted version.

3. Play the “value/ego card”

Tell the gamers what it takes to be a “cool gamer”, and ask for their opinions. Hold on to the responses involving copyrights and payments (you want to make money, duh), so you can have your message communicated. Remember that feedback from the gamer are very important to your progress, the articles I mentioned above already proved that one-way propaganda is no longer working. This would be a time-consuming process but it would come back with good results if you succeeded

As for ego, my opinion is to break down the sense of achievement from cracking a game. Tell the crackers/hackers (what do you guys call them in English by the way?) it’s not worth the time, and it’s not cool, they can put their programming skills to much better uses.

That’s what I got so far, Let me know what you think, especially if you think my suggestions suck and I look forward to your valuable input. All in all we share the same goal, right?

Gaming History in China 101: “Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game”

It All Began with A Fire

蓝极速网吧起火现场。资料图

“A fire engulfed the unlicensed “Lanjisu” Internet cafe in the university district of Beijing in the early hours of June 16, 2002. (read more at: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2002/jun2002/chin-j22.shtml) 25 college students died, and 12 injured because of the fire.

How did the fire started?

Two teenager attempted to rob another student who they considered “rich” in the Internet cafe, and were kicked out by the cafe manager. The two then set the cafe on fire.

How was this tragedy related to the demonizing of games? Let me break it down for you

  • The tragedy took place in a Internet cafe, where most of the frequent patrons were high school/college students, who when there for LAN games of that time (Counter-Strike, Starcraft, etc)
  • The two suspects were frequent Internet cafe visitors before they started all this
  • After the two were arrested, they confessed that their purpose of robbing the “rich kid” was to play game the Internet cafe (Investigation revealed that these two where from families of below-average economical situations, visiting Internet cafe was considered pricey for them).

From the points stated above, did you find anything overlapping from point to point? Yes. Internet and games.

The Internet and the games lured all the students to a place like an Internet Cafe; the Internet and the games kept attracting people like the two teenagers to visit; and of course, the Internet and the game cause the death of 25 young people.

The Vicious Cycle

After this tragedy,  Beijing banned entrance of Internet cafe to anyone under 18. Thus as a 8th grader, I could not get into an Internet cafe after school back then. However, I had other options, I could either go back home and play games or stayed on campus to play some basketball. I wasn’t either frustrated or desperate, but not anyone were sharing the same mentality as I was: students began to forge fake IDs to get into Internet Cafe and started to skip class for that. As one can predict, for most of the times, they get busted by the entrance of Internet cafe or on the way out of school.

Shortly after that, nearly all domestic media were scapegoating the Internet and games for being such addictive substances for the teenagers/students, while the fact that students don’t really have a life outside the campuses was ignored. You wonder why Internet and games were so “addictive”? Go find out how many students’ spare time was taken for excessive study sessions in China.

Again, this is nowhere close from the time when sh*t really hits the fan.

The Altar That Never Worked

Two years after the “Lanjisu” tragedy, an 8th grader committed suicide by jumping off from a 21 story building (read more: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,195236,00.html).

The 8th grader’s dairy revealed that he was a big fan of Warcraft 3, and considered himself as a warden. More importantly, it is suggested that he considered his suicidal behavior as ritual of resurrection and the top floor of the building he lived in was his”altar”. Before the death, the kid’s parents did not oppose him when it comes to games, however things change, and gathered the public’s attention. As you could predict, games are there to take the blame.

The domestic media once again led the public to focus on how “games are confusing the under-aged citizens when they are trying to distinguish fantasy from reality.” Isn’t helping the children to distinguish the differences a job for the parents? where were they while they son was leading a group of Night-Elves to fight the Orcs in both the game and the reality?

Apparently it is easy to blame something that doesn’t talk back, in this case. The gaming industry did not talk back, and do you know why?

Disregarding where the games were developed/made, when they were imported to China, they would be distributed and sold by Chinese, who were sharing the same mentality as the angry parents did. They felt guilty for what happened to the unfortunate youths when the tragedies were related to gaming. However, should they bear such burden?