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China struggles against online game bloodbath

Gore-free 'traditional' alternative delayed

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A Chinese online game designed to counter the growing addiction of young citizens to blood-spattered foreign imports is still not ready for release after a year's development, Reuters reports.

According to Xinhua news agency, Chinese Heroes will dispense with the gore and offer a roster of traditional role models such as "Lei Feng, a Mao Zedong-era model soldier, and Zheng Chenggong, a pirate also known as Koxinga who seized Taiwan from Dutch colonial rule in 1661". Gamers can apparently "click on statues [of heroes] to learn about their experiences and carry out tasks like moving bricks" - which suggests that Western games developers have little to fear.

Chinese Heroes is being put together by Shanghai gaming outfit Shanda. Spokesman Zhuge Hui admitted: "Five heroes have been developed, but we have not yet decided the launch date."

Nonetheless, the powers that be have high hopes for the product. Kou Xiaowei of China's General Administration of Press and Publication, which is overseeing the game's development, said: "We hope the game will teach players about Chinese ethics."

Beijing Internet Addiction Treatment Centre director Tao Ran expressed doubt that Chinese youth were much interested in traditional ethics, noting: "Teenagers seek adventure and fulfillment in dramatic and skill-demanding games. If hero games do not focus on killing and domination, gamers will definitely not play them."

The Chinese Heroes initiative is further evidence of Beijing's unease at the effects of foreign culture on the country's impressionable young minds. It recently "decided to ban foreign cartoons from primetime TV slots in an attempt to protect its indigenous animation industry". ®

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