Tao Hongkai, a professor studying addiction at Central China Normal University, has been around in China for ages giving seminars and talks about the evils of online gaming. But last week, it seems he has changed his tune. At a "game tasting" expo in Shenzhen on May 21, Tao posted five sequential micro-blog posts onto his Sina Weibo account. The posts in question were all about a game that he had demoed at the expo; however, unlike his normal anti gaming rants, he actually praised the games.
"I am very glad the game Shining Blade 2 can guide young people to experience war combat and teach them to fight the enemy with courage, this is the right direction of online game development edutainment health games, " Tao wrote on his micro-blog.
After his posts went online, Tao's weibo account was immediately bombarded with messages from gamers. Many of the messages were in the vein of "Shut up you hypocrite," or as user Ashibaba wrote "You're such a disgrace."
Chinese netizens were shocked and outraged by Tao's sudden change of heart. In the past, Tao berated online games as trivial and damaging to the health. Television network CCTV even did a special report on the man, calling the savior of Chinese gaming addiction (here is the not so damning English version).
The first reaction that many observers have pointed out was that Tao prostituted his morals, but the academic fervently denies that. Another idea is that Tao was promoting the game and the company because the game in question, Shining Sword 2, happens to be a "red game". Red Games are usually domestically made Chinese games that are super patriotic; normally, these games are situated during the Chinese civil war and the characters are members of the PLA (Peoples Liberation Army). In red games, the PLA never loses blood and never loses.
Tao has come to out to say that he hasn't changed his overall outlook on online gaming and that he doesn't officially endorse Shining Sword 2, but that the game is great, and his detractors should definitely try the game out. He also revealed that he was not paid to attend the expo or to endorse the game but was instead given what is commonly known in Chinese journalism as road fare (road fare in China is the habit of event organizers and companies giving journalists envelopes stuffed with cash to attend their event, normally an envelope has about 200 to 600 RMB or $31 to 94 USD ).
Whatever the case may be, Tao Hongkai has lost his credibility in both the anti-gaming addiction world and the pro gaming world and no amount of online posturing and reasoning can fix that.
戒网瘾专家代言网游：否认代言费过百万 [Southern Metropolis Daily]