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‘Warcraft’ and Its Popularity in China

The release of ‘Warcraft’, the film adaption of the popular video game, has been breaking records in the Chinese box office. What’s on Weibo’s Chi Wen provides a short overview of ‘Warcraft’ and its popularity in China; the game was, and still is, the most popular western online game in China.

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The release of ‘Warcraft’, the film adaption of the popular video game, has been breaking records in the Chinese box office. What’s on Weibo’s Chi Wen provides a short overview of ‘Warcraft’ and its popularity in China. The game was, and still is, the most popular western online game in China.

Warcraft fans worldwide have been eagerly awaiting the release of a movie set in the Warcraft universe since it was first mentioned in 2006. This certainly includes its Chinese viewers, that have been fans of Warcraft since Internet Cafes became booming in the 1990s.

A Short History of the WarCraft Game

The adventures of Warcraft date all the way back to the 1990s. Before the famous World of Warcraft game came into existence, there was the “real-time strategy” game called Warcraft: Orcs and Humans.

The game was developed by the American Blizzard Entertainment and came out in 1994 featuring two races for the player to choose from. Set in the fantasy world of Azeroth, players chose either the humans or orcs. The goal of the game was to collect resources for building a town and an army with which to defeat the opposing force. The game was famous for setting a new standard for multiplayer games.

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Blizzard followed Warcraft with Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness in 1995. The game was essentially the same as its predecessor with the added element of conducting battles at sea and better graphics. Like its predecessor, Warcraft II won many awards and was highly praised.

Fans of the game then had to wait another seven years for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion pack Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Warcraft III not only saw a huge upgrade in the graphics department, but it also saw the introduction of two new races: the Undead and the Night Elves. The game also marked the beginning of Warcraft’s adventures into China.

WarCraft: Game On in China

Warcraft III appeared in China just as the Internet was speeding up, which led to a new phenomenon called the Internet Cafe (网吧). The boom in Internet Cafes around China coupled with a ban on console games was a great factor in boosting the game’s popularity in China. Students would sneak off to Internet Cafes after or during class to try and dominate their friends in a game of Warcraft III (魔兽争霸III).

Warcraft III gained more popularity in 2004 after an unknown Chinese gamer named Sky (Li Xiaofeng, 李晓峰) won the 2005 World Cyber Games. Not only has Warcraft III influenced the competitive gaming scene in China but it also paved the way for World of Warcraft (魔兽世界).

Blizzard opted to go in a new direction for World of Warcraft. Instead of a real-time strategy game, World of Warcraft used the role-playing game formula. Set in the same fantasy world as the Warcraft games from before, World of Warcraft had players create avatars. Using these avatars, players would quest for gold and treasure throughout a vast landscape.

In 2005, Blizzard set upon a new quest to conquer China’s realm of MMORPGs with World of Warcraft.  Blizzard partnered with Shanghai-based The9 (第九城市) to handle localization and support in China.

To promote the game, The9 partnered with Coca-Cola. For their TV ads, Coca-Cola brought in Taiwanese girl band S.H.E, pop star Li Yuchun and Olympic gold medalist Liu Xiang. It was a recipe for success: within the first month, The9 reported 1.5 million active World of Warcraft players in China. The game was and still is the most popular western online game in China.

For the Love of WarCraft

Die-hard Warcraft fans around the world have creative ways to show their love for the game. A common way to pay homage to it, is through the art of cosplay. In China, however, fans have gone to extremes to show their appreciation of the game.

In 2008, a restaurant with medieval décor resembling the Warcraft universe opened up in Beijing. Customers to the restaurant where served by characters from the Warcraft universe and other MMORPGs. Sadly, the restaurant did not manage to garner as many fans as World of Warcraft did, and closed down in 2011.

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The restaurant was not the only way China showed its love for Warcraft. In 2011, a theme park called Joyland (环球动漫嬉戏谷) in Changzhou opened its doors to the public. The theme park is famous for “borrowing” scenery and character designs from the Warcraft universe. Unlike the Warcraft-themed restaurant, the theme park is still up and running.

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China’s most recent homage to Warcraft comes in the form a movie called My WoW (我的魔兽世界). My Wow started shooting in April this year and was set to hit theaters in May, a month before the Warcraft movie was due to be in theaters. Nothing much is known about the movie except that it will contain elements of romance, fantasy, and time-travel. Many Chinese fans, however, were not pleased with news about the movie; Chinese netizens’ response to My Wow were mostly negative, saying: “Don’t insult the name of Warcraft.”

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Although Blizzard’s Warcraft seemingly has been one big success in Greater China, it has also not been all roses. Some fans were so devoted to the game, that they died while playing it. In order to prevent such tragedies from happening again, the Chinese government later added timers to online games. In 2005, it became mandatory for all online games to have a “timing mechanism”. The mechanism works by lowering the player’s game character’s ability to the lowest level after a set amount of time. Playing at a lower skill level created an unsatisfactory gaming experience. However, this effort to curb game addiction failed as gamers found a workaround by creating multiple accounts.

WarCraft in China: No Skeletons and Less Bloody

After 11 years, World of Warcraft is still a much-played game because of the release of expansion packs which add more playability to the game. Due to government regulations, the Warcraft games in China are a bit different than those from other countries. These regulations meant the game need a makeover for it to be allowed to be played on Chinese computer.

For the game to be allowed in China, The9 had to replace skeletons with headstones and make blood less “bloody”. Then, an application had to be submitted to the General Administration of Press and Publications  (中华人民共和国新闻出版总署) for approval. By the end of the long process, players in other countries had already been playing the expansion packs for months or even a year.

Despite the many delays, Warcraft still endured and managed to attract a generation of fans in China. And in order for the Warcraft sequel to happen, it would need the further support from fans in China.

WarCraft in China’s Cinemas

According to China Film Insider, Warcraft: The Beginning by Legendary Pictures is China’s most anticipated movies of all time.

Building up to the release of the movie, the Taiwanese hip hop group G.U.T.S (兄弟本色) released the song “We Will Rule (背水一戰)” to promote the movie. The music was heavily panned by Warcraft fans. “The sound effects from the game sounds better than their song,” commented one fan. “Trashy song, don’t sing a Warcraft song if you haven’t played Warcraft before,” another fan said on Weibo.

The Warcraft movie has entered theaters in China since June 8. On the first day it already broke China’s box office records, as it had the best premiere day for any film launched during the week in the history of China.

On Weibo, netizens rated the movie with an 8.4. Although many fans are positive about the movie, it seems that the long anticipation of seeing it was greater than realization. “It was good, but now that it’s finished, I feel lonely,” one netizen says. Let’s just pray to the Old Gods of Azeroth that there will soon be a sequel for fans to look forward to.

By Chi Wen

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

Chi Wen is a freelance translator and writer who lives in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Besides translating and writing, he also teaches English as a Second Language to high school students. Chi is a self-proclaimed geek with a love for video games.

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China Celebs

Chinese Social Media Users Stand up Against Body Shaming

Manya Koetse

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Recent photos of famous actress Gong Li that showed her curvier figure have gone viral on Sina Weibo, receiving over 850 million clicks. With Gong Li’s weight gain becoming all the talk on Weibo, the public’s focus on her appearance has sparked an online wave of body positivity posts, with web users rejecting the all-too-common phenomenon of body shaming on Chinese social media.

First, there was the ‘A4 Waist‘ hype, then there was the ‘iPhone6 Legs‘ trend, the ‘belly button backhand,’ and the online challenge of putting coins in your collarbone to show off how thin you are (锁骨放硬币). Over the past five years, China has seen multiple social media trends that propagated a thin figure as the ruling beauty standard.

But now a different kind of trend is hitting Weibo’s hotlists: one that rejects body shaming and promotes the acceptance of a greater diversity in body sizes and shapes in China.

On August 26, Weibo user @_HYIII_ from Shanghai posted several pictures, writing:

Reject body shaming! Why should we all have the same figure? Tall or short, thin or fat, all have their own characteristics. Embrace yourself, and show off your own unique beauty!

The post was soon shared over 900 times, receiving more than 32,000 likes, with the “body shame” phrase soon reaching the top keyword trending list of Sina Weibo.

 

Gong Li Weight Gain

 

The body positivity post by ‘_HYIII_’ is going viral on the same day that the apparent weight gain of Chinese actress Gong Li (巩俐) is attracting major attention on Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo and Douyin.

The 54-year-old actress, who is known for starring in famous movies such as Farewell My Concubine, To Live, and Memoirs of a Geisha, was spotted taking a walk with her husband in France on August 24. The photos went viral, with media outlets such as Sina Entertainment noting how Gong Li had become “much rounder” and had put on some “happy fat” (幸福肥).

By now, the hashtag page “Gong Li’s Figure” (#巩俐身材#) has received more than 850 million (!) views on Weibo, with thousands of people commenting on the appearance of the actress. In the comment sections, there were many who lashed out against the focus on Gong Li’s weight gain.

“She just has a regular female body shape. Stop using ‘white / skinny / young’ as the main beauty standard to assess other people,” one commenter said, with another person writing: “Why do you all keep focusing on her figure, did she steal your rice and eat it?!”

 

“Why do you all keep focusing on her figure, did she steal your rice and eat it?”

 

Some people suggested that the COVID19 pandemic might have to do with Gong Li’s weight gain, with others writing: “If she is healthy is what matters, skinny or fat is not the way to assess her beauty.”

What stands out from the discussions flooding social media at this time, is that a majority of web users seem to be fed up with the fact that a skinny body is the common standard of women’s beauty in China today – and that accomplished and talented women such as Gong Li are still judged by the size of their waist.

 

Say No to Body Shaming

 

In light of the controversy surrounding Gong Li’s recent photos and the following discussions, posts on ‘body shaming’ (身材羞辱) are now flooding Weibo, with many Weibo users calling on people to “reject body shaming” (拒绝#body shame#) and to stop imposing strict beauty standards upon Chinese women.

The pressure to be thin, whether it comes from the media or from others within one’s social circle, is very real and can seriously affect one’s self-esteem. Various studies have found an association between body dissatisfaction and social pressure to be thin and body shaming in Chinese adolescents and young adults (Yan et al 2018).

The main message in this recent Weibo grassroots campaign against body shaming, is that there are many ways in which women can be beautiful and that their beauty should not be merely defined by limited views on the ideal weight, height, or skin color.

Over the past decades, women’s beauty ideals have undergone drastic changes in China, where there has been a traditional preference for “round faces” and “plump bodies.” In today’s society, thin bodies, sharp faces, and a pointy chin are usually regarded as the standard of female ideal beauty (Jung 2018, 68). China’s most popular photo apps, such as Meitu or Pitu, often also include features to make one’s face pointier or one’s legs more skinny.

This is not the first time Weibo sees a growing trend of women opposing strict beauty standards. Although the word ‘body shaming’ has not often been included in previous trends, there have been major trends of women opposing popular skinny challenges and even one social media campaign in which young women showed their hairy armpits to trigger discussions on China’s female aesthetics.

Especially in times of a pandemic, many netizens now stress the importance of health: “Skinny or fat, it really doesn’t matter how much you weigh, as long as you’re healthy – that’s what counts.”

Also read:

 

By Manya Koetse

 

References

Jung, Jaehee. 2018. “Young Women’s Perceptions of Traditional and Contemporary Female Beauty Ideals in China.” Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal 47 (1): 56-72.

Yan, Hanyi ; Wu, Yingru ; Oniffrey, Theresa ; Brinkley, Jason ; Zhang, Rui ; Zhang, Xinge ; Wang, Yueqiao ; Chen, Guoxun ; Li, Rui ; Moore, Justin. 2018. “Body Weight Misperception and Its Association with Unhealthy Eating Behaviors among Adolescents in China.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 15 (5): 936.

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©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Arts & Entertainment

China’s New Hit Drama ‘Nothing But Thirty’ Thrives in the “She Era”

Chinese latest hit drama ‘Nothing but Thirty’ has 20 billion views on its Weibo hashtag page.

Yin Lin Tan

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China’s latest TV drama hit Nothing But Thirty is flooding Weibo discussions. With over 20 billion views on its hashtag page, the show is one of the most popular shows of the season and demonstrates that China’s ‘she era’ (ta shidai 她时代) dramas are all the rage. What’s on Weibo’s Yin Lin Tan explains.

“Have you heard of ‘independent at the age of thirty’ (sān shí ér lì 三十而立)?” Wang Manni asks, her hair pulled back neatly and white shirt cleanly pressed. “I hope that, before I’m thirty, I’ll be promoted to supervisor.”

Riding on the wave of female protagonist (‘heroine’ 大女主) shows that have been taking over China’s entertainment scene, Nothing But Thirty (三十而已) is a 43-episode drama by Dragon Television that follows the challenges of three different women who have reached the ever-important age of thirty.

In a society where women are often expected to be married by their late twenties, a show like this, which tackles women’s present-day struggles, both in their personal and professional lives, has resonated with many.

In fact, the show is so popular that at the time of writing, the show’s hashtag (“Nothing But Thirty”, #三十而已#) has over 20 billion (!) views on Weibo.

 

Depicting the struggles of China’s thirty-something women

 

Nothing But Thirty revolves around the lives of three female leads from different walks of life. Gu Jia (Tong Yao) is a capable businesswoman turned full-time housewife; Wang Manni (Jiang Shuying) is an independent, career-oriented sales assistant; and Zhong Xiaoqin (Mao Xiaotong) is your run-of-the-mill office lady.

For Gu Jia, the birth of her son was what truly transformed her into a full-fledged housewife. In many ways, she seems like a perfect wife and mother: well-educated, capable, and thoughtful. But, eventually, she too has to face life’s challenges.

Driven and hardworking, Wang Manni is confident in both her looks and abilities. Her immediate goal, at least at the start of the show, is to achieve professional success. Throughout the show, her resilience is put to the test, personally and professionally.

Zhong Xiaoqin is described by many netizens as the most “average” or “normal” character. She is kind-hearted -sometimes to the point of being a pushover -, and has spent years at the same company without rising the ranks. Though her story might seem mundane at first, this peace is disrupted when her marriage takes a turn for the worse.

 

A story that resonates with the masses

 

“The show attracted wide attention, and it strongly resonated with female audiences. Many thirty-something working women saw their own lives reflected in the show,” Xinhua recently wrote about the show.

Nothing but Thirty currently carries a 7.6 out of 10 rating on Douban, an online reviewing platform.

Though some reviewers criticized how the later episodes of the show were unnecessarily draggy, most praised it for its portrayal of strong female characters, good acting, and largely realistic depiction of women above the age of thirty.

“I saw myself, and also saw the friends beside me,” a reviewer notes.

In China, women are, more often than not, burdened with expectations of getting married and settling down by the time they are in their late twenties. If you’re single and thirty, that’s made even worse.

Those who fall into this category carry the derogatory label of “leftover women” (剩女), a term that reflects how single women above the age of thirty are seen as consolation prizes or even unwanted goods.

Thirty is thus an incredibly important number, especially for women — something that’s clearly reflected in the show’s concept trailer.

Aside from societal expectations of starting a family, some women now also take it upon themselves to build their careers. In fact, you can chase after professional success without burdening yourself with the idea that you must be married – a notion exemplified by the character of Wang Manni.

Nothing But Thirty also showcases the sheer diversity of experiences for women above thirty: you don’t have to be married, you don’t have to be super capable, and you don’t have to be thinking about having children. Each woman goes through her own unique struggles and isn’t necessarily endowed with the so-called “protagonist’s halo.”

Ultimately, the popularity of the show is driven by the three female leads and the actresses who bring these strong characters to life.

By telling a story that is relatable and touches on relevant social issues, namely on expectations of women in society, Nothing But Thirty was able to achieve widespread popularity and is adding another notch on the trend of China’s ta shidai (她时代) dramas. 

 

The rise of ta shidai shows

 

Ta shidai literally translates to “her era” or “the ‘she’ era.”

Ta shidai shows explore what it’s like to be a woman in China today. The female characters are diverse when it comes to both their backgrounds and character arcs; they might have different jobs, different levels of education, or different personalities. These shows mostly center around a strong female lead and/or a main cast that is primarily female.

More importantly, they often feature capable women and how these women overcame the odds to achieve success.

Recent shows like The Romance of Tiger and Rose (传闻中的陈芊芊) and Sisters Who Make Waves (乘风破浪的姐姐) also fall under this category, as do somewhat older hit shows such as Ode to Joy (欢乐颂) and Women in Beijing (北京女子图鉴).

The Romance of Tiger and Rose is set in a society in which women are in charge and men are subordinate, in a daring reversal of gender roles. Though the show has been criticized for using social issues to attract attention, it gained a decent following for tackling topics like gender inequality and women’s rights.

The Romance of Tiger and Rose (传闻中的陈芊芊)

A reality TV competition that swept the Chinese entertainment scene, Sisters Who Make Waves attempted to rebuke stereotypes of women over 30 as “leftover women.”

The show brought together female celebrities above the age of 30 (the oldest competitor was 52), and had them go through a series of challenges, culminating in a girl group formed by the final competitors.

Nothing But Thirty is just another example of a show that’s attempted to depict the realistic struggles of women in modern-day China.

More Chinese dramas that feature women — specifically, their struggles and the expectations that society places on them — are slated to be released in 2020.

Over the past few years, more attention has been focused on women’s rights in China. As feminism becomes an increasingly important topic of discussion in China, strongly facilitated by social media and not without controversy, companies are likely to hop on the bandwagon and continue producing shows that fall squarely in the ta shidai category, given the genre’s rising popularity.

Though we can’t expect every single show to perfectly, accurately, and realistically portray women’s struggles, the fact that more stories like these are being produced already helps bring such conversations into the mainstream. 

Hopefully, the trend of ta shidai shows is a sign that these issues won’t just be tackled on camera, but in real life as well. 

 
Read more about Chinese TV dramas here.
 

By Yin Lin Tan

 Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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