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China requires gamers to reveal real names and map them to frag-tastic IDs

Gotta catch 'em all

China will force gamers to use their real names when playing online in an ongoing effort to make gaming in the country more "tasteful".

Feng Shixin, an official from the Communist Party's Central Publicity Department, said late last week that online games would need to implement a new state-run authentication system when it rolls out in September.

Under the new system, gamers must register to play video games using their real names. These names can then be checked against their in-game IDs. Local gaming giants Tencent and NetEase have already begun introducing their own verification systems but this one will be State-controlled.

Feng also said that the central government was encouraging the domestic industry to create games that are "creative, tasteful, and warm", a signal that China will tolerate games if they don't encourage what authorities deem to be anti-social attitudes and behaviours.

China already requires game publishers to submit games to the central government for review before they can be distributed in the country.

Regulators would ramp up their inspection of games allowed in the country in the coming months, Feng said. In the first half of this year, nearly 100 games were punished for operating without authorisation. Earlier this month, Apple removed thousands of unapproved games from its Chinese App Store, closing a loophole that game makers have relied on for years.

The latest moves are consistent with China's never-ending quest to tame its domestic internet. Last month, the country's internet watchdog called out several live-stream channels for spreading trashy content, including scantily-clad female presenters.

But extending the usage of real names to gaming signals that China's authoritarian state is increasingly worried about the country’s gaming culture. In 2018 the government established its own gaming regulator, the State Administration of Press and Publication, or SAPP, which promptly slapped new limits on how much time and money minors could spend playing games. ®

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