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Old 03-16-2006, 03:15 PM   #1
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Online Gaming With Mao, Comrade Lei Feng, And A Muslim Eunuch

Quote:
China resurrects Comrade Lei Feng as role model for young

Timesonline.co.uk, March 16, 2006

Help old people across the street, or gently dissuade strangers from swearing and spitting, and you may have a chance of seeing Chairman Mao on Tiananmen Square and even get his autograph. These are the concepts behind a new online game commissioned by the Chinese government to encourage thrift and polite manners, Xinhua news agency reported today.

"Learning from Comrade Lei Feng," developed by Shanda Interactive Entertainment, a NASDAQ-listed Chinese software company, is a drastic departure from the "shoot-'em-up, kill-'em-all" philosophy permeating many successful online games. The new game is named after a legendary--and possibly fictitious-- soldier who assumed iconic status among members of the Chinese Communist Party during the height of Maoist fervor in the 1960s. If he ever existed, Lei Feng died in an accident in 1962 at the age of 22, but by that tender age he had already performed so many selfless deeds that in 1963 China’s communist rulers decided to hold him up as a model for the nation. Lei Feng has lived something of a shadow existence in the reform era, but has now been picked out of retirement to inspire a new generation of Chinese youngsters, according to China's state news agency.

"For beginners, sewing and mending socks is the only way to increase experience and upgrade," said Jiao Jian, a young pupil and online game fan from the southern city of Guangzhou. Gamers progress to helping on building sites and other good deeds. Enemies in the game are "secret agents", Xinhua said. Players can replenish their strength after battling such evil forces by talking with the Party secretary, en route to a final meeting with Mao himself. While the new online game includes a treasure hunt, the prize is not a special weapon or pile of gold, but a copy of Mao’s collected works.
The game is just one in a series, called "Register of Chinese Heroes," that Shanda has been commissioned to develop by a government worried by all the sex and violence on the internet, earlier reports said. Other heroes set to teach China’s youth proper values include Zheng He, a Chinese admiral and Muslim eunuch who led a series of epic voyages of exploration as far away as the east coast of Africa 600 years ago.

Online gaming has exploded in China in recent years, with an estimated 14.3 million people playing regularly and spending some $240 million on their hobby last year. Annual revenues are expected to hit $1.5 billion by 2008 for a habit that domestic media warn is taking a toll on children’s studies.

But the developer of "Learn from Comrade Lei Feng" said that the game was aimed at providing students with the tools to learn the pleasures of helping others, Xinhua said. The concept seems to have been met with approval. "As long as my experience, reputation, skill and loyalty satisfy the game’s criteria, I will win and meet Chairman Mao," said Jiao.


These sound wholesome enough I guess, but considering how they only found one satisfied customer to quote, I wonder how well these games are going to fly.
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