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A Cure for Chinese Population Control: Video Games?

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A Cure for Chinese Population Control: Video Games?

Elisabeth Garber-Paul

According to a report from the All-China Women’s Organization yesterday, officials in China are trying to tackle the country’s overpopulation in a new way: using video games.

According to a report from the All-China Women’s Organization yesterday, officials in China are trying to tackle the country’s overpopulation in a new way: using video games.

The “Happy” game, as it is called, was developed and launched by the Yuexiu District of Guangzhou City. It’s a first-person interactive game that tests the players on their knowledge of contraceptive options, and rewards them based on their performance. (Women receive cyber-flowers and get to spend their husband’s cyber-money, while men are punished with cyber-housework. Go figure.)

The game cost about 60,000 yuan, or about $8,800, to develop, and the first batch of 10,000 games will be distributed for free by the government—though there are plans to release the game online as well. While it’s primarily targeted at newlyweds, the website reports that Chinese officials seem optimistic that younger audiences might benefit from the material as well. “‘We expect more people to play this game, even the youth, to whom computer interactions can give a fundamental sex education,’ local population and family planning authorities said.”

However, while the “Happy” game is the first of its kind in China, there is already an English-language counterpart on the market. In the U.K., “Contraception: The Board Game” is a similar interactive game based on the players’ knowledge of how to react to sexual situations—though there are no cyber-credit cards to shop with.

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In England, the game was created “to encourage responsible decision making, reduce unplanned pregnancies, and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases or unintended sex,” while in China, the goal seems to be an aim to control the population of their communities in a safe and healthy matter. Either way, play on.