Chinese Take-Out Gamers
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) Watch out Don Corleone. The Chinese government is trying to whack you.
China is banning Web sites from advertising games that glamorize violence such as Electronic Arts' (ERTS) bestseller The Godfather, according to a notice posted on the Culture Ministry Web site on Monday.
Details were not given as to how the law would be enforced. Nevertheless, the notice specifically called for law enforcement agencies to severely punish any sites that "undermine morality and Chinese traditional culture."The government is ramping up its censorship campaign against "spiritual pollution" in order to ensure stability ahead of the 60th anniversary of communist rule on Oct. 1. Apparently, this includes video games that promote drug use, obscenities, gambling or crimes such as rape, vandalism and theft. "Such online games promote the glorification of mafia life ... and are a serious threat to the moral standards of society causing vulnerable young people to be adversely affected," said a report from the Culture Ministry carried on the Xinhua news agency. Wait a darn minute here! Are they saying Take-Two's (TTWO - Get Report) Grand Theft Auto franchise is anything but wholesome, clean family entertainment? How dare they? China has the world's largest population of Internet users, more than 298 million, so American video-game makers are willing to swallow a whole lot of censorship in order to sell units. Activision Blizzard (ATVI - Get Report), for example, is partially relaunching its massively popular online game "World of Warcraft" in China this week after switching network operators and tweaking some content to appease Chinese censors. Blizzard previously changed skeleton characters to characters with normal human bodies at the request of the government. "These games encourage people to deceive, loot and kill, and glorify gangsters' lives. It has a bad influence on youngsters," the notice said. And blocking online videos of the Tiananmen Square massacre sends a positive message? Yeah, right. Dumb-o-meter score: 95 -- China needs to stop playing games with free speech.