Shanghai’s ChinaJoy focuses more on tech, less on teats

By Annabel Eaton Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/22 19:13:40

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

 China's gaming population reached 583 million in 2017, of whom 45 percent were women, according to data provider CNG. However, since most games are male-oriented, girl gamers contributed only 21 percent of the industry's revenue, and currently only one in four employees in the industry are female, a new South China Morning Post article reveals.

It's any wonder, then, that showgirls and booth babes are still a big draw at Shanghai's summer gaming convention, ChinaJoy. The event, the largest annual digital entertainment expo in Asia, was originally designed to showcase the latest Chinese-made games, but infamously used scantily clad women as a sort of bait to get paying male customers through the doors.

To its credit, ChinaJoy cleaned up its act this year, with less cleavage and more cutting-edge contraptions. As numerous media reports and photo essays show, exposed breasts and thighs were few and far between. Miniskirts and sexy cosplay abound, but the four-day conference is far less raunchy than it used to be.

At one point it got so obscene that, in 2011, the local government had to set limits on the amount of breast that could be shown, according to In 2015, the organizers imposed strict fines against girls showing off more than two centimeters of cleavage and penalties against those caught in vulgar poses or performances.

Since then, ChinaJoy has seen less headlines about its upskirt shots and more serious media coverage about the innovative inroads China's gaming sector has been making. "But what caught our attention is how matured the event - and the people participating in it - has become," an August 4 editorial in read. "The industry seems to have evolved... to serious people trying to deliver great content."

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, for example, used ChinaJoy to release the 8th-generation CPU upgrade to their laptop lineup with a fast new processor and a 1TB hard disk that will make gamers like me giddy. Similarly, China's homegrown console brand Subor released a new AMD chip-powered gaming PC that is predicted to kick off a new era of Chinese home consoles. I am personally very excited by that.

A record 354,000 visitors attended this year's ChinaJoy, according to, which is further proof that Chinese tech and gaming are unstoppable juggernauts that have Japan and Silicon Valley scrambling to cooperate with China, according to Forbes. About 600 companies, including 200 foreign firms, attended the B2B section, which is expected to lead to contracts worth $500 million, organizers told Virtual reality, e-sports and artificial intelligence were highlights.

This is a wonderful era for Shanghai, which in the past couple of years has transformed itself into China's innovation hub. The Chinese gaming industry, the world's largest with estimated sales of $15 billion in the first half of 2018, is now in Shanghai's hands, with an ever-rising number of tech start-ups basing themselves in the city.

Why, then, do Chinese tech giants like Tencent, NetEase, Huawei, Xiaomi and Alibaba feel the need to continue to exploit young women at expos? I mean, you don't ever see Microsoft, Apple or Sony employ half-naked girls at the Consumer Electronics Expo (CES) or Game Developers Conference (GDC)?

According to the South China Morning Post, not a single foreign gaming brand at this year's ChinaJoy, including Xbox, Blizzard and Ubisoft, employed models, They relied strictly on their creations and their reputations to attract buyers. China, which is poised to dominate the Western gaming market, should take a note from its foreign counterparts in this regard.

What I'd like to see at the 2019 ChinaJoy, then, is the complete elimination of female hostesses, models and dancers - and that includes hiring models as receptionists or saleswomen to "skirt" the rules. It might sell less tickets to perverts, but only then will the world take Chinese gaming completely seriously, as it deserves to be.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.


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