"Visiting the brothel for free" and other secret code words for pirated games in China
Years of flagrant piracy in China has contributed to a unique lingo based around the practice
China has long been a hotbed of digital piracy. In 2004, the country’s software piracy was reportedly as high as 90 percent.
Piracy rates have declined over the years, but it still remains a significant issue in China. In fact, just recently, a Chinese streamer blatantly live-streamed a pirated version of the hit game Fire Emblem: Three Houses days before its release on the country’s Twitch-like live streaming site Douyu.
With such a large base of users and enablers, China has developed its own lingo around digital piracy over the years. Here’s a look at some of the terms used.
The word “resources” lies at the heart of China’s digital piracy. Whether it’s a movie, a song or software, resources is the catch-all term to describe all digital assets online.
So when somebody makes a post on social media or in a forum “asking for resources,” you know that this person is likely -- but not always -- asking for a download link related to whatever they are seeking.
The Study Zone
After the aforementioned Fire Emblem incident, Nintendo allegedly went after popular game piracy site 91Wii with a cease and desist. Subsequently, the site locked up a section called “The Study Zone.”
Yep, that’s where a lot of the pirated goodies were hidden. Why the Study Zone? A lot of the piracy websites often disguise themselves as forums for tech hobbyists to study new technologies. But it’s almost an open secret that the word “study” is often used to mean sharing unlicensed resources.
It’s not just games, though. Movies and TV shows often come with the disclaimer “this video is for study only.” This is especially true for popular Western shows and films. These videos might rack up tens of millions of views. That’s a lot of studying.
The Hard Drive Version/The Green Version
Remember how software used to mostly be sold in the form of physical media like CD-ROMs? The fact that disks were often required to run programs helped limit the spread of piracy to some extent.
But when somebody eventually cracks the software, the CD-ROM becomes redundant. In China’s piracy circles, cracked and pirated versions of software are often labeled the “hard drive version” to differentiate them from the “CD-ROM versions.” Saying you’d like the hard drive version doesn’t sound as bad as asking for a pirated copy.
Another term that pirated software often hides behind is the “green version.” Software that’s already been cracked often has in-app advertisements removed by hackers. These are seen as clean versions of the programs, hence green.
Visiting the brothel for free
The phrase “bai piao” means visiting a brothel for free in Chinese. Unlike the previous terms, this crass phrase is a derogatory one used to insult those seeking ways to enjoy services or products without a willingness to pay for them.
The phrase first gained traction among pop star fans who used it to describe fans who aren’t willing to pay for the concerts or merchandise that support their idols. But it’s also been increasingly used to refer to gamers who play pirated games.
The Legitimate-Version Warrior
Given the rise of the term bai piao, it’s only natural that the other side would eventually fire back with its own insult. So now we have the “Legitimate-Version Warrior.”
Similar to how the term social justice warrior is perceived in the West, some Chinese netizens ridicule the legitimate-version warrior for insisting people only use legitimate versions of digital products. (You can imagine the bitterness of these exchanges between the two sides.)