Virtual protest in China

From Danwei (via Virtual China) a post on protests in ZT Online (征途), the largest on-line game in China. That there are on-line games that cater to Chinese users is not surprising if only because of the language barrier and the lag time across the Pacific.1 According to the article however, the main reason Chinese gamers like Chinese games is that

“Chinese gamers are an unwelcome species on European and American servers,” said a game manager who once worked on World of Warcraft. Chinese players always have ways of quickly ascending levels that leave European and American gamers in the dust, and on group missions they do not like to respect the tacit rules of profit division. For those “pedantic” European and American gamers, Chinese players are like fearsome pagans. “European and American games do not encourage unlimited superiority of power; they put more of an emphasis on balance and cooperative support.” The former WOW manager said, “Perhaps this is because of the influence of traditional culture and the current environment; truth be told, Chinese gamers are better suited to jungle-style gaming.”

Ahh, those individualistic Chinese just don’t get along with the group-oriented Euro-Americans. The essay itself is interesting enough, although the author needs to spend more time on Terra Nova.

One thing that struck me is the bit on sit-down strikes, something I talked about here before. One of the big differences that the essay mentions is that ZT makes no effort at all to maintain the fiction that the game world is non-commercial or more accurately that it is a commercial world unattached to ours. If you want success in the game you can just buy it for real-world cash from the company. At one point this led to a protest from the players (who thought they were being cheated) and staged a sit-down strike.

Gamers were furious. They stopped fighting monsters, refused quests, and the kingdom’s rulers sat down in a rare peace and refused to request wars. The Royal Plaza at the center of the game map was thickly dotted with seated warriors, mages, archers, and summoners. These characters, usually bent on slaughter, used absolute peace to protest the insatiable greed of the system.

I assume that in order to sit down in the Royal Plaza players would have to actually log into the game and sit there, so it seems that people are going to some effort to protest like this, so these forms of protest seem to have broken the digital barrier. Needless to say the ringleader of the protest was imprisoned by the game company and killed. This being a game she was killed several times.

  1. I tried to get on to ZT for this post, but the lag was something awful 


  1. It is more of a jealousy thing, I think. Honestly, while playing games in Taiwan, games that I’d played for years, I was destroyed easily by the Taiwanese and Korean players. I don’t have the time to spend hours and hours in cyber cafes playing these games, but they do. I can only imagine this is the same way, as I’ve read about the Chinese being “uber gamers” as well, in China, that they have that strange want to sit in front of a monitor for hours a day.

    Asians just have that…time? to sit and power-up their characters…we don’t.

  2. The anti-Chinese sentiment is, in my experience, mostly down to Gold Farming. It’s just about a textbook example of racial stereotyping: people see a lot of Chinese players doing something they shouldn’t, and extrapolate to ‘all Chinese are criminals’.

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