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Forty percent of the world’s electronics—including many popular game consoles—are assembled by a single Chinese company. (Fuse / Getty Images)

Why Is China Afraid of Video Games?

Chinese citizens are banned from using many video game consoles

Too much PlayStation hurts the nation. That was the reason the Chinese government gave for banning video-game consoles in 2000—to prevent teens from wasting time. For the past 13 years, it’s been illegal in China to buy or sell game consoles, including the Xbox 360, the Nintendo Wii, and the PlayStation 3.

But the ban’s days may be numbered. According to the newspaper China Daily, the government is considering allowing the sale of game consoles in China.

In reality, it may not make that much of a difference. First, the ban hasn’t been strictly enforced.

Second, many consoles are sold illegally on China’s black market, and buyers don’t have to go far to get them. China is an industrial superpower with the second-largest economy in the world (after the U.S.). Ironically, China manufactures most of the world’s video-game consoles.

Finally, some companies simply change a device’s description to sell their consoles in China. For example, Lenovo recently launched a controller-free motion-sensing device similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect. But instead of calling it a game console, Lenovo sells it as an exercise and entertainment machine.

Still, even if the ban is lifted, the videogame industry may be in for a rough time in the Communist country. China’s government censors everything from TV to the Internet. It blocks thousands of websites, including Facebook and YouTube, using a huge system of censors known as the “Great Firewall.” Video games would likely be subject to the same controls.

Games would probably be edited to remove violence and anything else that Chinese officials deem inappropriate, according to Liel Leibovitz, a digital-media professor at New York University.

“As with every bit of cultural content imported by China, the government filters out anything it considers offensive,” he tells JS. “It will be nearly impossible for console makers to uphold China’s moral values.”

This article originally appeared in the April 1, 2013 issue of Junior Scholastic. For more from Junior Scholastic, click here.

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