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Daily Drip

Twitter Bits: Chinese Government Welcomes First Official Esports Athletes, Fate of Sexy “Gamer Girls” Still Uncertain

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This week has been full of twists and turns for China’s gaming community.

Last Saturday, history was made as the first-ever batch of official esports athletes in China were registered in Shanghai. Eighty-five players of games such as DOTA2, Hearthstone, Warcraft 3, League of Legends, Royal War, FIFA Online 4, and Honor of Kings became the first to receive the coveted State-recognized certificates of registration.

It’s a strategic move in a country where the population of gamers alone outnumbers that of the entire United States. China’s gaming industry expects to see a whopping 63% increase in market worth this year. The same report also predicted that China’s esports audience will top global charts this year, reaching 75 million fans.

Hopefully these steps toward standardizing esports may lead to a brighter future for China’s gaming professionals, who have historically been subject to long hours, low pay, and social contempt.

Related: 

China’s Esports Professionals: Long Hours and Low Pay, But Love for the Job

This past weekend also marked the closing of the annual China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference, or ChinaJoy 2019. Unfortunately, this year’s conference wasn’t all fun and games — one guy even ended up smashing his PS4.

He wasn’t alone — check out this sea of middle fingers inspired by developer MiHoYo’s release of Genshin Impact for PS4, which sparked public outrage due to its suspicious similarities to Nintendo’s iconic Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Copycat scandals aside, ChinaJoy is in a bit of an awkward situation. Audience interest in the once-legendary convention has been waning, and a well-intentioned transition from “gaming conference” to “gaming, technology, and pan-entertainment conference” has proven more difficult than imagined.

To make matters worse, ChinaJoy is struggling to find its place within China’s ongoing wave of new gaming regulations. Several Party-friendly concepts were shoehorned into the convention’s agenda, including the promotion of games that incorporate traditional Chinese culture, 5G-driven gaming, and anti-addiction measures for minors.

Not mentioned above is the 4-year running ban on vulgar costumes, a dress-code which targets ChinaJoy’s notorious “booth babes” (i.e. girls stationed at gaming booths for crowd-baiting purposes). In 2015, regulators instructed these showgirls to refrain from wearing low-rise pants and bikinis, or bearing “more than 2 inches of cleavage”. Wonder if that includes Beijing Bikinis too…

While their costumes have toned down accordingly over the past couple of years, this year’s gamer girls still managed to draw in crowds and commentaries.

To top it all off, Chinese tech giant NetEase just announced plans to invest over 720.3 million USD into the construction of an esports park in Shanghai, which will eventually host large-scale gaming tournaments and competitions.

So amidst a rollercoaster of regulation, infrastructure, and changing consumer attitudes, it’s tough to predict exactly what China’s gaming industry will become — but it’s certainly receiving no shortage of attention.

Find out more on our Digitally China podcast episode below:

Digitally China Podcast: Hope and Despair in the World’s Largest Gaming Market

Monisha Pillai
    Monisha is a senior at NYU studying media theory, Chinese culture and Mandarin. You can probably find her ordering boba five times a day or crying over Korean boy bands.