China has formed a dedicated Ethics Committee for Online Gaming. State media says it’s denied licenses to nine games and advised 11 others to make changes to reduce “ethical risks”.

What games? What risks? What does the ethics committee do? Nobody knows.

One Weibo user wrote, “What does this mean? You have to review our ethics? I dare ask, are saints doing the reviews?”

China is, of course, no stranger to regulation. And China’s gaming industry, the biggest in the world, is full of red tape right now. The government has virtually put the gaming industry on hold right now by not approving any new games since March -- and all thanks to a bureaucratic fight between two departments.

In fairness, China’s gaming space has been a bit like a virtual Wild West. There are tons of titles that push boundaries in various ways, whether in taste or by being shameless clones.

Take Honkai Impact 3rd, for instance. It’s an action game, but it stars anime schoolgirls. And one of the modes in the game allowed players to poke at their bodies, “touching” them in, well, you know the rest. After public criticism, it was removed from the game.

Female characters could get mad depending on where players touched them -- or perhaps to put it more accurately, when players harassed them. (Picture: miHoYo)

Still, since few know what the new ethics committee actually does, others on social media are turning to humor to explain it.

A Weibo user referenced George Orwell’s 1984, “Is this the Ministry of Truth?”

Another Weibo user also sarcastically wrote, “This is a move to punish you plebs. You could have dedicated yourself to learning the socialist values. But instead, you choose to play games.”