From Mario to Doom, gaming is a large sector with a large number of differences. It is also no strange to political problems. From the days of the violent video games to its modern struggles with left-wing comments on its values, it has weathered a spotlight. Gaming despite the media attention and social attention has continued to grow, and an increasing number of individuals participate in the sector. Yet the modern geopolitical movements have threatened this industry and its foundational brands.
Skimming the last Cold War:
Despite being one of the newest industries, gaming was around for the cold war era. Some games commented on the cold war and other political movements. Tetris was developed within the Soviet Union. However, due to the Soviet society and the economy of the communist block, most gaming focused on the western or Japenese market. With the restrictions on western goods within the Soviet Union, there was no need to market or keep in mind those markets. When the Berlin wall came down the eastern market was mostly forgotten due to the economic depression and post Soviet states lacking the needed money to be worth it.
America Dominate with European Indies:
Over time European developers managed to make their own games. Japan continues to have its own market. Most of the European titles would remain smaller games relying on American publishers. However, with the start of the indie scene, the number of Europeans has increased. European companies also managed to get there own companies with some British companies and Ubisoft being examples. Cultural differences certain existed between Europe and America, but this was just seen with a difference in the types of games and some of the writing style.
Start of Chinese Influence:
As time went on the situation in the world changed. China moved away from the days of Mao and opened itself up a little to the world. Living standards rose along with the technology that was available in the country. As the Chinese government wanted its economy to have more of its own domestic demand, this saw the adoption of technology within China. Over time publishers managed to get their products sold in the country even behind the great firewall. Some publishers such as blizzard saw an increasing success in the Chinese market with the large population now able to get involved in gaming. At this time, the influence that China had on gaming was limited, with only some games reaching the country and the changes being just in that country to appease the censors. It was still mostly Western firms selling to the Chinese people.
Phone Games written in Chinese:
The mobile phone market was a significant growth point for the gaming sector. This was especially true in the Chinese markets. Domestic firms took to making games for mobile devices as western firms would have a limited focus on it. Some of the most significant games in China were made by Chinese companies and influenced within the framework of Chinese law and culture. Not many of these games would make the jump to the west despite some of them being listed on western app stores. The indirect influence did spread as some western firms took inspiration. Despite this the influence on western firms was still limited.
Western to Chinese:
Yet as the Chinese economy got more money, the citizens within it also received more of that money. This meant that it could start to buy influence and this occurred across all sectors. Gaming was removed from this and shares where purchased in existing firms. Many firms also realised the massive amount of money that could be made in China. This saw specific ideas and images no longer be allowed. Despite this, gaming continued to grow and have more money pour in. The Asian sector became much more than just Japan and challenging America for market potential. Sometimes the Chines influence would be deemed too much by the gaming community with pushback occurring most often when images were changed or censored.
Flexing the influence to kill certain messages:
In recent times the situation in Hong Kong and Western China has captured the world’s attention. Yet in gaming, it has also shown how Chinese influence has grown. People have been banned from playing games professionally and media who were covering the game fired for just being around an act of protest. Companies like blizzard have been criticised for them taking numerous political stances outside of China but not allowing any positions about China’s actions to occur. Other companies have made similar stands as western issues are seen as clearly requiring action, but if the country is outside of the west, gaming is just entertainment that should remain out of it.
Easy days ending:
President Donald Trump and the broader administration had started to take action. This has seen the closure in Houston. It also has seen the creation of a bill that was initially designed for Hong Kong but has the ability to freeze accounts for anyone who interacts with members of the Chinese Communist Party. Hollywood has been the focus of most of the possible uses for this. However, the gaming industry could also be a potential victim. With how interconnected some of the major companies have become with Chinese business and the Chinese government, this means any future trade ties could hurt the sector.
Gaming Community Turns against Chinese Oppression:
Internationally many publishers and platforms are now being asked to pick. Do they wish to serve the Chinse market and please the Chinse censors or the wider community? Japanese games have increasingly come under nationalistic attacks by institutions possibly. Linked to the Chinese government. While the sector often claims that the players and communities are toxic, the wider world now is being called to attention about links to China and the Chinese government. As much as now some brands have claimed they want an apolitical industry, their actions have made that impossible. The question remains what values does the sector want and will it China ties bring the entire house down.