Hemorrhoids outbreak

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Article by Stephanie Chiang in Taiwan News (9/2/21):

"Chinese censorship: Media creator substitutes ‘hemorrhoids outbreak’ for ‘plague’

Mobile game developers having to make concessions to appease Chinese censors"

Censorship in the PRC is going from the ridiculous to the pathetic.  We have just been studying the government's attacks on "girlie men" and the authorities are also assailing "entertainment that is too entertaining".  Here's the latest chapter in the CCP handbook dedicated to eradicating everything that is immoral and improper.

Players of the Chinese role-playing mobile game "Entwined Love Across Time" posted screenshots ridiculing in-game dialogue that showed characters discussing the aftermath of a “hemorrhoids outbreak,” UDN reported on Sunday (Aug. 29).

After the screenshots were posted to Weibo (China’s Twitter equivalent), a user claiming to be the creator of the game replied that because censors forbade any mention of the word “plague,” he had replaced the word with “hemorrhoids.” This resulted in a bizarre in-game conversation in the story-based game, in which a character recounts living through “hemorrhoids,” which taught him that “hemorrhoids are not to be feared, as human nature is much more fearsome than hemorrhoids.”

In case you were wondering what the word for "hemorrhoids" is in Mandarin, it is zhìchuāng 痔疮, while "plague" is wēnyì 瘟疫.

The Taiwan News article continues:

Another Weibo user questioned why the word “plague” would be censored and was quickly told it was due to the sensitivity of COVID-19.

In fact, the highly popular mobile and computer game “Plague Inc.” was removed from the Chinese market in 2020 after its popularity peaked during the first weeks of China’s COVID outbreak….

Stephanie Chiang's article is one of the best general treatments of current censorship efforts that I've read recently.  She covers period dramas and fantasy stories, both of which are frowned upon by the censors.  Ironically, with China massively pumping up all aspects of its military, battle games have had to be rewritten to emphasize peace over war.

World of Warcraft serves as another example of Chinese censorship, in which all blood, skeletons, and zombies are removed, as the Chinese Communist Party not only outwardly condemns violence but also adheres to strict atheist views.

One of the most sensitive subjects that comes under the scrutiny of the authorities is love between males:

As anything involving homosexuality is heavily censored in China, terms such as “danmei” or “pure love” (chún'ài 純愛) are widely used to refer to the category, and a "bromance" is often described as "socialist brotherhood" (shèhuì zhǔyì xiōngdì qíng 社會主義兄弟情). At one point in “Guardian,” a character even exclaims that he has witnessed “a brotherhood” (xiōngdì qíng 兄弟情) between the two protagonists.

Any explicit depiction of “pornographic” acts is subject to excision.

Aside from a huge list of censored words, including any form of the numbers 89 and 64 (in reference to the Tiananmen Massacre [on June 4, 1989]) and other political terms, authors “may not describe anything happening beneath neck level” (bózǐ yǐxià bùnéng miáoshù 脖子以下不能描述).

The censors have worked themselves into a frenzied loop that is only going to drag China deeper and deeper into a monotonous, homogeneous anticulture.


Selected readings



[Thanks to Nick Kaldis]


  1. Michèle Sharik Pituley said,

    September 14, 2021 @ 9:23 am

    “all blood, skeletons, and zombies are removed, as the Chinese Communist Party not only outwardly condemns violence but also adheres to strict atheist views.”

    I see how those things fall under the category of violence, but why does atheism have anything to do with it?

    Is it the zombies? Zombies as depicted in games or other media usually bear no relation to anything in voudon, so…?

  2. Frans said,

    September 14, 2021 @ 9:48 am

    Is it the zombies? Zombies as depicted in games or other media usually bear no relation to anything in voudon, so…?

    In a game like WoW, walking skeletons and zombies do so by magic. In the real world, most atheists presumably think there's an overwhelming amount of evidence against the existence of such magic, for example because there are no wandering skeletons, so in a certain contrived sense it's incompatible with an atheist worldview. (More accurately stated, magic is incompatible with the evidence atheists are aware of.) Within the fictional Warcraft universe, the evidence supports the existence of magic.

  3. game_developer said,

    September 14, 2021 @ 6:11 pm

    I had contact with a Big Chinese Publisher about getting a game published legally in mainland China, they basically told me unless it was likely to make a lot of money to not bother, because the micromanagement of the chinese censors would be too much. I also learned that they prefer to not think of it as localisation but 'culturalisation', encompassing its more holistic(/totalitarian) nature.

    On the other hand there are grey-area work-arounds to making your game available to mainland Chinese audiences via Taiwan, and many western game developers have made a tidy penny by doing so.

    In the good old days Germany was the strictest of countries that people usually published in – all nazis removed from games, people sometimes replaced with zombies (red blood is bad, but green blood is ok), etc… . That finally changed I think last year with a hallmark case allowing for computer games to be treated as an artform and being allowed thusly a much broader range of allowed expressions.

  4. Cervantes said,

    September 16, 2021 @ 11:44 am

    Coincidentally (I assume) in the KJV translation of 1 Samuel 4-5 the Philistines suffer an outbreak of hemorrhoids (actually it uses the archaic "emerods" but that's what it means), as a curse for stealing the Ark of the Covenant. (Seriously.) But later translators concluded that the Hebrew word should be construed more broadly as any abnormal growth, and may in fact have been intended to refer to bubonic plague. So this substitution has precedent. (New International and Revised Standard have "tumors.")

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