An editorial written by a South Korean exchange student about Chinese online games has been circling the Chinese internets as of late. In his article the author talks about his love for China and all things Chinese, but he delves furthest into his disdain of China's video games and its gaming industry listing his top five problems with Chinese online games.
Now this gamer's issues with Chinese online games is an old problem that has been discussed to death. Skipping past the parts where he prefaces his arguments with his praise of China, let's take a look at this gamer's disdain with the Chinese gaming industry and Chinese online games directly.
The five problems he lists are plagiarism, scammers, lag, poor quality, and a lack of culture. He makes valid points defending his premises that I can't really argue against, but seeing that I live in China, AND I have to play so many Chinese games, I have to say that his dissatisfaction with Chinese online games is pretty superficial.
Sure, many Chinese games do suffer from the problems he listed. The lag, come on, China's internet speeds are the among the worst in the world's; China ranked 90th in the world this year.
Sure there are loads of poor quality games, but come on, China releases so many damn games a year that it's ridiculous. It does have the world's largest population.
Scamming happens everywhere. I get emails from Nigerian princes all the time.
As to the criticisms of plagiarism and lack of culture, I personally agree with this gamer a lot. However for the sake of playing devil's advocate let's look at them a bit closer.
There is no denying that many Chinese games are blatant rip-offs of foreign games. (Hunters Blade, anyone?) But to judge the Chinese online gaming market as a whole on the copycats is missing the point. There are many MMOs, even some new ones such as Tao Yuan that are fairly unique in the sense that they borrow from various other games and add something unique to them.
The point of Chinese online games lacking culture, however, is a bit odd. Partially because of the multitudes of copycat games out there, many of the home grown games lose some of their cultural identity. However, there are loads of games with rich backstories and culture that can only come out of China; just look at any of the MMOs that focus on Louis Cha's novels.
Comments by Chinese readers were a mixed bag of agreement and dissent. Some of the commenters were just obnoxious and called for the Korean gamer to go back to South Korea, others concurred with his assessments of China's gaming situation.
I am personally conflicted, as I believe that these problems need to be brought up time after time to spur Chinese innovation. At the same time I believe that this gamer is only just touching the surface of the problems with gaming culture in China.