According to the South China Morning Post, a new government memo stated only games portraying a "correct set of values" would be approved by officials, which means new restrictions on games featuring same-sex relationships, "effeminate males" and characters whose genders aren't immediately apparent.
"If regulators can't tell the character's gender immediately, the setting of the characters could be considered problematic and red flags will be raised," the memo said, before making it clear that the ban includes games where male characters dress or act like women.
As part of this push towards what the country calls "morality," the memo states that Chinese officials are also restricting games that "[blur] moral boundaries" by letting players make seemingly benign choices such as playing an "evil" character.
"Players can choose to be either good or evil… but we don't think that games should give players this choice," it continued. "And this must be altered."
These new rules come as a result of an internal training course for China's state-backed gaming association, which is supposed to teach game developers what is and what isn't allowed in their games. Recently, officials also met with two huge Chinese gaming companies — Tencent Holdings and NetEase — to explain what narrative elements would prevent their games from being released, citing everything from "gay love" to money obsession as a promotion of "wrong" values.
However, this is just the latest iteration of the country's strict media regulation and censorship laws, which also includes a recent mandate limiting children and teens' online gaming to just three hours a week. Not only that, but in line with the previously mentioned gaming restrictions, China has also banned "effeminate" and "sissy men" from TV, which is in alignment with new anti-gay legislation attempting to rebuild "traditional masculinity." So instead, they are now suggesting that broadcasters just fill up time slots with programs promoting "excellent Chinese traditional culture."
Read the South China Morning Post's full report here.