A new article published by Chinese state-run media seems to signal a policy shift on the part of Beijing. While the Chinese government has been pretty hostile to gaming in recent years, the article points to video games as a potential way to reinforce and disseminate Chinese culture, perhaps pointing to a thaw in terms of how Beijing views games.
This piece was spotted by Reuters tech correspondent and former South China Morning Post writer Josh Ye over on Twitter. The piece, which appears on the official People's Daily website (a state-run newspaper in China), is entirely in Chinese, but Ye translates the headline as "Deeply exploring the value of the electronic games industry is an opportunity we can't miss".
With the aid of machine translation, you can see that the piece points towards a recent European Parliament vote to fund the worlds of esports and gaming in general. People's Daily's article says that not only is gaming aiding in the advancement of technology, but it's also a good tool for "Chinese cultural inheritance, exchange, and innovation" (machine translation).
It's worth noting that the article does mention the problem of addiction, which seems to be one of the Chinese government's biggest bugbears with gaming. The article says "all parties need to pay special attention" to gaming addiction as a problem, but that anti-addiction regulations have had a positive impact.
People's Daily's article ends with perhaps the strongest message of support for gaming from Beijing, or a Beijing-affiliated organization, for some time. The final sentences call for the promotion of the "healthy development of the video game industry" as well as the promotion of "new economic, cultural, and technological value". Looks like gaming could be coming back in a big way in China.
A turbulent time for gaming in China
Recently, gaming has been under pretty sustained fire from the Chinese government. After Beijing described games as "spiritual opium" and cracked down on the time minors could spend playing games, hundreds of developers and industry companies pledged to self-regulate more effectively, not just for addiction but also for the content of games.
These regulations led to a 40-million-strong drop in the number of young people playing video games in China, despite the fact that gaming obviously remains immensely popular there. A recent study found that China has more esports fans than the USA has people overall, so there's obviously still a strong appetite for gaming in China.
We'll have to wait and see if this article does signal an overall policy shift in terms of Beijing's attitude towards video games. Seeing as People's Daily is a state-run news platform, it generally acts as a mouthpiece for the Chinese government, so this does seem like an assertion that China might be changing its mind towards games. Watch this space for more info.