This points towards an interesting truth about “red” games in China: Most of them just aren’t very popular. Much of this is due to the low quality of the games, because a poor game will still be a poor game no matter whether it’s communist or not. This can be seen in the aforementioned Shining Sword 2
, but also in recent games produced by Online Technology
, a Shanghai game company. One of Online Technology’s games, Red Campaign
, is an iPhone side-scroller that has players switching between multiple Chinese army characters in an effort to mow down rows of comically insidious-looking Japanese soldiers, a concept that sounds much more interesting than it actually plays. With the game quickly getting repetitive within the first five minutes, as well as insisting on splitting up its levels with long paragraphs describing communist party history, it’s no wonder why “red” games that sacrifice solid gameplay for overly heavy propaganda simply aren’t appealing to the masses in the way they were meant to.
With China’s economy growing every day and more Chinese videogame developers branching out into the international market, one wonders if the Chinese “red” game will continue to exist or will simply disappear under the forces of much more popular wuxia
-themed fantasy games. Ultimately, it’s not the communist propaganda that will kill the popularity of “red” games, since many of the most popular Western videogame franchises, such as Call of Duty
, are first-person-shooters heavily revolving around good guy squads of Americans or British mowing down terrorist enemies in plots that are arguably just as propagandistic as Shining Sword 2
’s, albeit slightly more subtle. (The enemies in one of the newly announced Call of Duty games
, in fact, are ironically none other than the Chinese themselves.)
What will decrease the popularity of “red” games, however, is dull gameplay, and if the Chinese government wants to influence the hearts and minds of local videogame fans, the mechanics of a game have to come first--propaganda second. Recently, the government seems to have realized this truth, developing Mission of Honor
, a new first-person shooter designed to train the Chinese military. The game, while obviously propagandistic, is less obvious about its “red” nature than Shining Sword 2
. Whether or not this more subdued approach will win over Chinese audiences, or possibly have a chance at breaking out into the international market, still remains to be seen. In the end, only one thing can be said for certain--as the Chinese gaming market matures, consumers can be sure to see games evolving to keep up with the times. “Red” games are just another genre that will morph and transform as China itself changes from a third world country into a first world superpower.