War on graft moves into cyberspace

By Zheng Lifei and Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-08-02 06:48

Online gaming and fighting corruption might sound like an unlikely pairing, but in one part of the country they are now just a click apart.

The local government in East China's Zhejiang Province recently launched the nation's first-ever cyber game to combine anti-corruption education and entertainment.

Incorruptible Fighter, which can be accessed via www.cnlzyx.cn, is the story of a man who fights corrupt officials and purifies himself by improving morality and ethics.

After weathering various hardships and weeding out the bad guys, he finally gets to embrace a corruption-free world in which people live peacefully.

As the game progresses, the character wins credits by punishing corrupt officials and assisting upright ones. He must also seek to improve his own morality within the virtual world.

Instead of looking for jewels or magic potions, players in this game must learn about culture, history and local folklore to progress to higher levels.

"We want game players to have fun but also learn about fighting corruption, folklore and history," said Qiu Yi, an official with the Ximen Sub-District office, Haishu District in the affluent city of Ningbo, which is in charge of the online game project.

The game's 165 characters, both good and bad, are modeled on well-known historical figures from Chinese history.

In addition, all of the scenery featured in the game has been copied from real landscapes in Ningbo, which heightens the reality for the players, Qiu said.

Even local delicacies and handicrafts that are found in Ningbo are used as the various props and magic potions in the game.

One gamer surnamed Sun said: "I feel a great sense of achievement when I punish lots of evil officials. And it's fun to see so many familiar scenes depicted in a cyber game."

The game's creators made a special effort to avoid any gory or bloody scenes, and the game service is cut automatically after two hours of consecutive play, in line with the national policy to help prevent youngsters becoming addicted to online gaming.

Since its launch on July 25, more than 7,000 people have registered to play the game, Hua Tong, one of the principal developers, said.

Such has been the level of interest that the website is currently undergoing a redesign to accommodate as many players as possible.

But some experts have questioned the value of the game in helping to fight real corruption.

"Government officials should be the ones getting anti-corruption education, not local youngsters," Wang Xiongjun, a researcher in governance at Peking University, said.

(China Daily 08/02/2007 page5)

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