Channel News Asia reports that China has ordered both Tencent and Netease to, quote, “end their focus on profits and cut content perceived to be breeding “effeminacy””. This comes not long after the nation placed even more restrictions on gaming time for minors, in what layman gamers would probably consider extremely restrictive, and “draconian” at best.
Instead of said “effeminate” imagery, China in turn wants more “masculine representations”, calling the former’s aesthetics as “abnormal”. Such expression in media are said to be a cause of concern among the older, conservative members of the Communist Party. The perception is that “effeminate” men are emotionally fragile and physically weak, “undesirable” qualities when stoic strength seems to be the goal here.
Now, for the editorializing.
Setting aside the implications that this China ruling says “effeminate” men are not “real” men, this would look to erase an entire genre of design. Genshin Impact‘s Venti fits this trope: having braided hair, slender form, and a “high” voice. You could even argue that Genshin‘s male protagonist also has several “effeminate” qualities, mostly in having long hair, the same character model as Venti, and notably, shows more skin than his female counterpart.
If the idol industry, especially that of K-pop, has anything to say, “effeminate”-looking men are incredibly appealing visually. Beauty standards are another thing to unpack, but this isn’t really the place for it. The crux of the issue is that this kind of ruling stifles creativity, as people may find these designs interesting for a variety of reasons: they like “pretty boys”, or god forbid, trans people (trans men perhaps more so) find similarities in a character’s presentation to themselves.
Presumably since the ruling is relatively new, this will not be affecting games with existing characters with these designs, though bans have already been issued for TV broadcasts. You can’t just remove Venti from Genshin Impact, after all, with how ridiculously popular the game is, people having spent money to upgrade him. That’s not even mentioning his relevance to the story.
As it were, stock prices for Tencent and Netease aren’t looking so hot in the immediate present, with investors no doubt feeling extremely skittish over the increasing number of hoops in place. One has to wonder what kind of measures international companies will have to scramble for if they want to even get approval for the Chinese market.