Interactive experience law advised
Rating system needed for games, says political advisor
Published: Mar 02, 2023 11:13 PM
Citizens in Shanghai are playing <em>jubensha</em> game on October 30, 2021. Photo: VCG

Citizens in Shanghai are playing jubensha game on October 30, 2021. Photo: VCG

A political advisor has called for China's booming industry of interactive murder mystery games to adopt a rating system to prevent children from being exposed to pornographic and violent content. The call also includes a push for more interactive experiences about patriotism and traditional culture. 

The industry of jubensha, literally meaning "script-kill game" in English, is laden with problems, thus there is urgent need to introduce a rating system and good-quality scripts, Zhao Changlong, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top political consultative body, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

For the healthy development of the industry, Zhao is set to propose more targeted regulations, including submission of scripts for government review to avoid pornographic and violent content being laid in front of consumers. He also recommends that cultural departments coordinate with law enforcement bodies to enhance the sharing of information so that illegal behavior in this industry can be put to an end in a timely manner.

Zhao is planning to submit the proposal during the 2023 two sessions. The first session of the 14th CPPCC National Committee is set to begin on Saturday and the first session of the 14th China's National People's Congress is scheduled to begin on Sunday.

There are two types of murder mystery games. One is a tabletop game where people sit in a circle reading different scripts and solve mysteries. The second, also more popular type, combines role-playing and escape rooms. The game has gained popularity among millennials, especially during the pandemic, as a form of entertainment and as a social activity. 

According to Zhao's research, youngsters aged 10-19 in cities are the main force playing this game. However, some scripts contain content that is violent and sexually explicit or involves supernatural powers, which some vendors even use as a selling point.

The rampant growth of the industry, ­coupled with the widespread toxic influence of certain content, has caught the attention of government authorities. In 2021, Shanghai became the first Chinese mainland city to regulate the games by banning violent, horrific and pornographic content.

In July 2022, five departments, including the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Ministry of Public Security, issued a notice requiring owners of script-kill venues to carefully examine their scripts, and review the hosts, costumes and tools involved in their games. 

Alex Wang, who works at an interactive murder mystery venue in Beijing, told the Global Times that his business has been very careful when introducing scripts. 

"You can't underestimate most young customers," he said. "If the script is too low-brow, it is very hard to attract customers. We also risk losing customers or getting reported, if we offer low-brow and boring scripts."

Zhao said with the right script and content, script kill experiences can also be used as venue to promote red and traditional Chinese culture. 

"I suggest more talents get involved in writing scripts for these games. We can produce more scripts about the history of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) and traditional Chinese culture," he told the Global Times. 

Content about the CPC is growing in the interactive experience industry. Cheng Ke, a Party member who works in a hospital in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, told the Global times that his Party branch often organizes team building activities at script-killing venues with stories about CPC history. 

"It is different from watching TV or reading books. By acting out a script, you view history from a first-person perspective. For example, if you take on the role of a CPC member, you can really feel the faith and responsibility of being a Party member. It is just so real," said Cheng.