Role-playing games find popularity among young Chinese amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Published: Dec 30, 2020 05:53 PM

Photo: VCG

Role-playing games have become one of China's most popular game genres, especially among young people, as suggested by a trending social media post on Tuesday that told of a surge in China's role-playing game stores, which have seen an increase from 2,400 to 12,000 stores in 2019.

A role-playing game is a game in which about five to eight players assume characters' roles in a fictional setting. A single game usually lasts four to seven hours. The players take responsibility for acting out these roles and win the game by cracking clues. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines.

According to reports, China's role-playing game industry market in 2019 has broken 10 billion yuan ($1.53 billion), which is twice that of 2018. The number of role-playing game shops nationwide has soared from 2,400 in January to 12,000 in December. 

One owner told a CCTV reporter that it is not difficult to open a role-playing game store. The initial investment of opening a store is about 300,000 yuan, including decoration, recruiting staff, and script purchases. Most owners will set up shop in old buildings with relatively cheap rent, which can be paid back in six to twelve months. 

A shop owner surnamed Shen, who has had his shop in Beijing for more than ten years, told the Global Times on Wednesday that a competitive role-playing game shop should have well-qualified staff, a good location, a script with a good story and a rich experience.

He pointed out that most of the players in his shop are from 18 to 35 years old, and the scripts can range from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of yuan.

Besides offline stores, online role-playing stores are also very popular. One owner said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of their app's users has increased by 8 million, according to a CCTV report.

Lu Mengyue, a senior role-player who has been playing for six years, told the Global Times that there are generally three types of role-playing games including reasoning and suspense, romance and emotion, and horror, her favorite being reasoning and suspense, as she enjoys the process of cracking the codes.

"I like watching Who's The Murderer The celebrities in the show gave me a lot of inspiration in decoding the hints. And I like the feeling of achievement after using my knowledge to find out the answer," said Lu.

Who's The Murderer is a Chinese variety show, that invites stars to play these kinds of suspense games by finding evidence at the set "case scene" and then investigating who could be the 'murderer' among them. 

Li Yuyu, another player, told the Global Times that she could get to know her friends' personalities or even people she just met within a short period of time when playing role-playing games. 

"It is a good game for making friends and getting familiar with them, especially when you just met some new friends," said Li.

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