Thursday, March 21

On Chinese game clients, dead players are represented not by skeletons but by tombstones. Heeeere's Oondasta!

I like it, makes it seem like a giant graveyard instead of a mass execution. I Do feel bad for all the Chinese people playing Forsaken characters....

There is an urban myth that it shows disrespect toward their ancestors if they show any bones and what not. I have to call this out. I'm not calling you out as a person but I want to address this ridiculous urban myth that's always peddled around the WoW community.

It boggles my mind that so many people believe this nonsense without ever trying to look it up. I thought one day a Chinese guy in this subreddit would come by and dispel this rumor but it never ended up happening.

If this claim that Chinese people don't like seeing skeletons because it's offensive to their ancestors or whatever is true then none of them would ever be able to read a biology textbook. There's no cultural taboo against skeletons in China, only a political taboo. Chinese players actually protested the removal of bones and skeletons in the game. The Chinese version of vanilla WoW had the original Forsaken models, bones and all. There was not a single mention of it by the Chinese media. You know why?

Because the Chinese didn't care. They did care however when the government suggested The9 to censor all that stuff for the Chinese version of Burning Crusade.

This is like that panda myth that got passed around before MoP came out. For years, gamers in the western world insisted that WoW would never feature pandarens because they claimed that any violence done against pandas was an unforgivable cultural insult that would cause mass riots in Beijing. That's funny, because when I was in Changchun in '06, I saw dozens of PC cafes filled with people slaughtering tons of pandaren characters in DotA.

So here are the facts:
  • Bones and skeletons were taken out because the government didn't like them. The Chinese government is notorious for entertainment censorship, though they let media from Hong Kong get away with a lot more than mainland stuff. The reasoning was that WoW is a teen rated game and the politburo didn't want kids seeing images of death all the time.
  • There's no taboo against skeletons or bones in China. In fact, some families in China do what's called a "lucky burial" where they dig up bones of the deceased several years after burial, wash them, dry them out, and store them in a jar until they find a better plot. Exhuming graves and cleaning out grandma's bones is not characteristic behavior for a culture that supposedly fears calcium.
  • There was one definitive change made to pandarens that was done preemptively on Blizzard's part, as in the Chinese government didn't ask them to do this, and it was done as a culturally sensitive gesture to the Chinese market. They removed all the Japanese-influenced elements of pandarens and made them explicitly Chinese. When they were originally conceived, pandaren warriors were basically samurai. Taking China's national animal and portraying them in the culture of their former oppressors would probably have gone badly with both the government and the public.

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