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Computer Games to Get Suitability Ratings
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Internet professionals are developing a computer game rating system to shield teenagers from online violence, pornography and terror, despite heavy resistance from game producers.


Six of the most popular computer games were rated at the inaugural Green Game Assessment Meeting organized by the China Youth Association for Network Development (CYAND), a government-sponsored civil organization that aims to promote good online behavior.


The games, including mega-hits Counter Strike by Washington-based Valve Corporation and Warcraft III by California-based Blizzard Entertainment, were rated in terms of violence, sex, terror and morality.


The CYAND asked a 40-member panel to place the games into five categories, namely games for all, games for players above 12, 16 and 18, and games with dangerous implications.


According to the "green game criteria" drafted by the CYAND, "green games" are those suitable for players under the age of 18. Despite this enabling the Chinese video game market to work under the same restrictions as the global market, the initiative is being cold-shouldered by industry professionals.


Wang Ning, director of Aomei Electronics' game department, said his company will abide by regulations of China's General Administration of Press and Publication and Ministry of Culture, implying that CYAND's ratings are not legally binding.


Asked whether the company will submit its products to CYAND before putting them on the market, no answer was forthcoming, but he said CYAND is not a government department and therefore game producers have no obligation to comply with "green game criteria."


Aomei Electronics has introduced Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo -- American games from Blizzard Entertainment -- to the Chinese market over the past 10 years, all with great success.


Positive impact


Experts point out that even if the rating efforts have a positive impact, they are not likely to change the business operation of game producers or affect the choices of game players. It was noted that rampant piracy in China makes it difficult to establish an effective game rating system.


"I doubt very much that young players will use the ratings to select games," Xu Leiting, an expert on teenage psychology, said in yesterday's Beijing Morning Post.


"The management of on-line games is a complicated social project. The government should issue relevant laws and regulations and adopt a compulsory rating system," he said.


(Xinhua News Agency October 18, 2006)

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