Following preliminary proposals put forward during this year’s Two Sessions, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has announced further guidance on the regulation of the jubensha industry.
The Interim Regulations, which were published on the Ministry’s website on April 13, focus primarily on improving the standard of content in jubensha scripts to ensure the games do not become politically sensitive. Content that eulogizes the Communist Party of China, promotes the core values of socialism, builds a strong sense of Chinese national community, and promotes the popularization of science and technology are among those encouraged by the Ministry as per the document.
“Script killing”, similar to murder mystery in English, is a role-playing game in which players must work together to solve an imagined whodunnit scenario whilst remaining in character. It has been gaining steam in China since 2016 after a reality TV show, Who’s the Murderer, exploded in popularity and inspired fans to play the game themselves.
The game is now a mainstream past time for young urbanites in China, with specialised stores popping up to curate a totally immersive gamplay experience. Local governments in Shanghai and Guangdong previously introduced content supervision for the game in 2022, requiring jubensha providers to submit scripts for approval.
The Interim Regulations include “tips on age appropriateness”, which state that under 14s should only be permitted to play jubensha on weekends and holidays, and must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. This aligns with the concerns raised at Two Sessions about the psychological impact of the game upon young people.
Youngsters reportedly love the strong sense of immersion they feel when playing jubensha, but some parents worry that this could hamper normal social development, cutting off teens from reality and worsening issues like social anxiety. The new measures proposed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism are expected to curb the potentially addictive capacity of the game and assuage parents’ fears.