China’s ‘script murder’ games face tighter controls

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism will start collecting public opinions to manage the scripted murder role-playing games industry.


Players in an offline Jubensha shop in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, dress for different roles in a game.[Photo provided to China Daily]

May 3, 2023

BEIJING – The Ministry of Culture and Tourism will start collecting public opinions this month on a draft regulation to manage the scripted murder role-playing games industry.

Key aims of the regulation are protecting the physical and mental health of young players and promoting the healthy development of the industry.

Widely known as “script murder”, the role-playing games are becoming increasingly popular with the public. However, while the game has enriched some people’s lives, its unrestricted development has brought about problems regarding the protection of underage players and the promotion of an unhealthy culture, the ministry said.

According to the draft regulation, entertainment venues, tourism attractions and hotels operating script murder as a business activity should be under the government’s supervision.

The games should not incite any illegal behavior, divulge the nation’s secrets, damage the dignity and interests of the State or preach terrorism and extremism. Unhealthy content in the games that defames the nation’s culture and history or infringes on the rights of underage players is to be banned. Publicizing pornographic and illegal behaviors, such as gambling, violence and drug abuse, are also prohibited.

Under the draft regulation, script murder operators are not allowed to offer “script murder “services to underage players except when they occur on statutory holidays, weekends and summer and winter holidays.

Operators are also being encouraged to set guidelines on age limits for murder scripts used in a game to ensure inappropriate ones are off-limits to underage players. Children under age 14 should be accompanied by a parent or custodian when playing the game, according to the draft regulation.

Script murder businesses should not be located in venues below a basement floor, the draft said.

The ministry said that it will build up a State-level pool of experts to review the scripts used in the games. Industry associations and organizations are also being encouraged to come up with their own suggestions to help the government supervise improper and illegal behavior.

Harsh punishments are planned for operators who violate the regulation. For example, operators offering scripts containing unhealthy content that includes violence and drug abuse will receive a warning from the local culture and tourism department, have their illegal gains confiscated, and face a fine of 10,000 yuan ($1,455) to 50,000 yuan.

In June last year, the ministry, along with four central departments including the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Emergency Management and the State Administration for Market Regulation, released a notice on tightening the scripted role-play games industry. Under the notice, business operators were given a one-year grace period to correct their operating methods, improve script review work and remove fire hazards at entertainment venues.

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