Doodling away at his desk, a skinny and unassuming young man, Li Feng, ponders how to draw a political cartoon regarding missile defense shields. Li, 32, is a graphic artist for a media company in Beijing and he attributes his choice of career to his upbringing, an upbringing in China, with video games.
"When many people think of China, they often think of young Chinese dressed in communist Mao suits with army caps," said Li. "That wasn't the case when I was growing up."
One of the many common misconceptions about China is that kids in the 1980s and 90s didn't have Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog, but all of that is false. Many young people from that generation grew up playing the same games that people in Japan and the States played, and their gaming pasts have influenced what they do now.
"We had video games like I would assume people elsewhere did," Li told Kotaku.
Growing up in the 1980s in Shanxi province, Li who recalls playing hours upon hours of Contra on what he called the "Hong Baiji （红白机)". What Li calls the "Hong Baiji" is in reality the Nintendo Famicom.
"Some of my fondest memories growing up was me and my friends playing on the Hong Baiji," said Li. "It was 700 or 800RMB, at the time it was considered expensive, my parents wouldn't buy me one but I had friends who had one."
Li recalls that his parents were not very supportive of him playing video games, but that despite their apprehension to his hobbies, they did not bar him from playing like some of his peers. Li, it seems, was not alone.
Indy game designer Hu Ming, 31, who is currently working on his first independent game, also remembers fondly of the Hong Bai Ji. Growing up in Liaoning province, Hu recalls going to "arcades" to play on the PlayStation to get his gaming fix. Hu also recalls fondly playing on the Famicom. Despite not owning one himself, he would visit his uncle's house to play with his cousins.
At the time Hu says, computers weren't popular or powerful enough for gaming and most of the gaming entertainment was had in arcades. However, the legal arcade phase in China was short lived as the government closed many arcades and banned home consoles in the year 2000.