Asia-Pacific

China targets 'vulgar' advertising for online games

Internet users at an internet cafe in Hefei, Anhui province, on 8 June 2010
Image caption Chinese authorities say they fear the advertising will corrupt young people

The Chinese government is to ban online games companies from using sex, gambling or violence to promote their products.

Several firms have used women involved in sex scandals to help sell their games.

The new regulation from the ministry of culture is the first to be applied to the country's online gaming industry, according to state media.

More than 69 million people, most of them young, play online games in China.

Morals 'at risk'

Sex sells. Scandals too. Whatever your market, attracting attention helps shift your product.

In China though, the companies that produce online games appear to have gone too far.

Officials from the culture ministry are unhappy that the game producers have used young women embroiled in sex scandals or employed in the pornography industry to promote their products.

One was a model known as Shou Shou, who became famous after her sex videos were posted on the internet. She was asked to promote a role-playing game.

A Japanese adult video star helped publicise another game - Warrior OL.

Social commentators complained the use of these women in advertising material, though not illegal, could undermine the public's morals.

So the government has decided to act. From next month local officials will be able to force website owners to delete what is called vulgar content in online game promotions.

Violence and profanities will be banned from all the advertisements but not, it appears, from the games themselves.

The new policy has been covered widely in the state-controlled media and on websites here, accompanied of course by photos of the same scantily clad models who have upset the bureaucrats.

Newspapers, like the games producers, know that young women embroiled in scandals always attract a lot of attention.

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