Live-action role-playing is fast gaining popularity in China, with the hobby especially trendy among younger, urban Chinese. But since this surge, which one analysis estimates as generating $2.8 billion in revenue last year, it appears the authorities have begun taking more notice of LARPing and is seeking to regulate it.
According to Sixth Tone, the southwestern city of Chengdu recently became the first Chinese municipality to introduce new rules on the "role-playing mystery gaming sector" (via Polygon). It seems the provinces of Liaoning and Shangahi will follow as local Chinese authorities seek to "promote the healthy and orderly development of the script entertainment industry".
While LARPing has been popular in the west, and especially the US, for years, the hobby has a more specific form in China as they tend to involve "script murder" games. These are games where players put on period costumes and assume roles in murder mystery games that can take hours to act out. These script murder games can be played at home, in hobbyist stores, or at more dedicated themed venues. The scripts themselves can be purchased online for home players, or are available in the stores catering to the hobby.
But since LARPing is becoming a growing industry in China, and is expanding the murdery mystery confines, it appears authorities want to keep a closer watch on the content of these LARP games. Chengdu's new rules, for example, now require local LARP businesses to publish "red and black lists" of "good and problematic scripts" that could include pornography, violence, and vulgarity, among others, according to Sixth Tone's reporting.
Minors' involvement with LARPing is also being curtailed as they are now only allowed into gaming venues during weekends, national holidays, summer and winter vacations. While this may be the edict of Chengdu for now, it may be a sign of things to come as LARPing venues in China have increased by 400 percent since 2018, according to an industry report.
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