China may be [insert phrase about economic development here], but in terms of video gaming, it is very much still a third world country, from an official standpoint. A mix of protectionist import regulations and overzealous self-censorship on the part of some gaming companies has given the outside world the impression that Chinese gamers exist in some kind of bizarre gaming hell.
In fact, as anyone who has set foot on the mainland knows, anything available outside China is available here too, and thanks to intellectual property theft, it’s probably cheaper, too. Consoles may be technically illegal, but in actuality, they’re everywhere. The summer’s hottest release, StarCraft 2, was available in China the same day it was available everywhere else, even if it wasn’t officially released here. (In fact, it was even possible to legally purchase the game and download a digital copy from China, which is how I got mine).
Of course, the lack of official support certainly causes frustration. And the perceptions of Chinese gamers outside of China has led to strong prejudices, especially in Taiwan, whose servers are often populated with large numbers of Mainland players looking to get in on the action. One of our commenters was kind enough to point me in the direction of a few BBS posts that discuss these issues; I have translated selected comments below.
Prejudice against Mainland gamers
[A word of explanation: since games are online, Mainland Chinese gamers are usually identified by Taiwanese gamers because they use simplified rather than traditional characters to communicate.]
Original post: “I was cursed at by Taiwanese players for no reason at all! How many others have had similar experiences? For example, being called ‘Mainland dog’ or ‘communist [agongzi] ((阿共仔, which is apparently rude slang for “communist” in this context.))’? And I used to really like Taiwanese people…”
“This happens quite often. Just ignore them, there’s no point in arguing with the brain-damaged. I’ve heard things like ‘Mainland dog’ hundreds of times.”
“There are extremists everywhere; just ignore them, there’s no need to implicate everyone from the same place as the extremist.”
“We go to Taiwanese servers to play games, not to look for people to curse us. And when we get into the games, we don’t talk, because it’s not easy to communicate as you [Taiwanese people] don’t recognize some simplified character forms. PS: I have also been cursed before [on Taiwanese servers].”
“If you’re playing WoW and you go to Taiwanese servers you will definitely be cursed at.”
“As soon as someone Taiwanese spots a simplified character, they just yell ‘Mainland dog’ over and over.”
“Yes, but in someone else’s territory you must swallow your anger, it’s all because we don’t have our own battle.net”
“Just use the Sougou pinyin input method to type in traditional characters.”
Many posters also pointed out that most Taiwanese are not so prejudiced, and urged the original poster not to lump them all together with the bad eggs.
Frustration over censorship and slow official releases
Original post: “Starcraft 2 is out. When will Netease release the official version? They won’t make us wait too long, right? Anyway, battle.net already requires a monthly fee, so how could they see such a big cake and not feel hungry? ［i.e., doesn’t Netease want to make money from people playing Starcraft?]”
“Don’t bother waiting. Even if you manage to wait for it, it will just be river-crabbed [censored].”
“Netease: Don’t ask us, we want to put it up online tonight, please go ask the relevant government departments!”
“This user’s post has already been deleted.”
“In the year 3000-something.”
“[Riffing on the official patch that removed all skeletons from WoW] Look at the zerg and their zombies, our goal is to keep there from being any bones at all in the game, so just imagine the Queen of Blades in the background with two meaty wings [in the game, the Queen of Blades has bones for wings].”
“[The official Chinese version] will be out when Starcraft 3 is released.”
“Don’t even hold out hope, if you want to buy it just buy [an unofficial version].”
“In addition to waiting, we will also have to wait some more. We gamers really suffer.”