A military-backed Chinese video game released yesterday allows players to satisfy their patriotism by fighting enemy forces in islands disputed with Japan, reflecting enduring tensions.
Glorious Mission Online, China’s answer to Call of Duty, marks the 86th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The game, an online version of an earlier first-person shooter game used by the PLA to train troops, features the East China Sea islands known as the Diaoyu Archipelago (釣魚群島) by Beijing, the Senkaku Islands by Tokyo and the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) by Taiwan.
A press release for the game says: “Players ... will fight alongside Chinese armed forces and use weapons to tell the Japanese that ‘Japan must return our stolen territory!’”
Images from the game’s Web site are labeled “Guard the Diaoyu islands” and a trailer posted online features shots of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It also shows planes taking off from a computer-generated version of China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which went into service last year.
The game only became available at 5pm, but its designers, the Giant Interactive Group, who developed it jointly with the PLA, said millions of users had already registered to play.
Giant cooperated closely with the PLA to ensure that weapons looked authentic and soldiers’ voices were accurate, company vice president Gu Kai said.
“Our relationship with the military is like the relationship between the US Army and Hollywood,” he said.
Gu linked the game with attempts by the PLA to present itself as more transparent, including inviting foreign media to tour military bases, to boost its image abroad.
“It’s about soft power,” he said. “Through the game we want to allow ordinary people to gain an understanding of the army, which is often seen as closed-off and mysterious.”
“In Western games the People’s Liberation Army is always the enemy, this is the first game where it is on the good side,” he said. “The US Army is shown every day with guns in Iraq, and no one thinks that’s strange.”
The game will boost military recruitment, he added.
Maggie Du, director of Giant’s Center for Overseas Business Development, said Glorious Mission Online would not add to regional tensions.
“We need to be related to actual events, but it’s not about politics, it’s a commercial consideration to attract customers,” she said.
The company hopes to attract foreign gamers to fight alongside the PLA, she added, and possible future versions of the game designed for export might try to avoid identifying participant nations.
“We might replace the US and Russian armies with robots or zombies or something like that,” she said.
In related news, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said it had lodged a formal complaint with the US after the US Senate passed a resolution on Monday expressing concern about Chinese actions in the disputed East and South China Seas.
“The above resolution proposed by a minority of senators took heed of neither history nor facts, unjustifiably blaming China and sending the wrong message,” the ministry said in a statement.
“We urge the relevant senators to respect the facts and correct their mistakes in order to avoid further complicating the issue and the regional situation,” it added.
Additional reporting by Reuters