“Tittytainment - A form of lowest common denominator entertainment designed to appeal to the masses and refrain people from thinking.”
The word Tittytainment is formed based on the blend of tit + entertainment, in reference to the pacifying effect of watching TV, similar to that of a child sucking on its mother's breast. The word "tittytainment" was coined for the first time in 1995 by the neo-liberal ideologue Zbigniew Brzezinski during the conclusion of the first "State of the World Forum". The objective was to determine the state of the world, suggest desirable objectives and to establish global politics to match them. The attendees to this meeting arrived at the conclusion that a 20:80 society is inevitable, implying that 20% of the world population would be sufficient to sustain the world economy, while the other 80% would be without work or opportunities, nourishing a growing frustration. This term was coined in 1995, before the prevalence of the internet, before the time when TMT companies stretched its digital tentacles to the most remote corners of the earth, and before the looming rise of AI & robots that will likely replace many of the functions performed by humans today. So what do the 80%+ (or 90%+) of the people do with all this time, the unwelcomed yet potential reality is the rise of Tittytainment.
This scope of this topic covers more than just mobile games, or even games for that matter, but it is one in which the rising mobile games market will have a significant role to play. Before I begin, due to the sensitive nature of this topic, there are bound to be disagreements and areas in which some readers may find offensive, and I apologize for that. This topic will be discussed in 3 sections:
- China's Landscape
- Types of tittytainment
- Future development
Part 1: China's Landscape:
- Consolidation of Wealth – Beijing has one of the most High Net Worth (HWN) individuals in the world, defined as those with assets exceeding 10 Mn RMB. According an article on people.cn, over 65% of a family's assets is locked into real estate, while this can go up to 90% in tier-1 cities. With the one child policy, assuming each grandparent owns 1 apartment, and is passed on to their children, their children will own two apartments, and their grandchild will own 4. Although this accounts for a small proportion of China's population, this is undoubtedly a trend that is seen in some locals in tier-1 cities. With so much wealth passed from generation to generation, a portion of these people will lose the drive to work 9-6 to earn an amount that is miniscule compared to their total assets, and instead can afford to indulge in entertainment.
True story, I knew someone whose family owned an old hutong courtyard in a prime location in Beijing, the family was offered a hefty sum (presumably tens or hundreds of millions RMB) by the government to reclaim the land for new infrastructures. This person still holds a job, but says that the goal is simply to earn enough to sufficiently support the game spending habits.
- Widening Wealth Gap – On the other end of the spectrum, some people that ventured into the cities from their rural hometowns are so shocked by the difference in wealth and social standing that they simply give up trying to climb up this ladder. At the San He markets, an industrial district outside of tech hub Shenzhen, the markets attract people who have given up on being successful and just need some cash to get through the week. “With one day's pay, you can have fun for three days” is San He’s unofficial slogan. The people work odd jobs to earn enough to get through the week, with little consideration for career progress, with the mindset that it’s so hard to be successful, why even try in the first place, might as well just enjoy life.
- Hong Kong example – once a place where it had the potential to create Oscar worthy movies, a place where a mere population of just 7Mn people could create global superstars such as Bruce Lee, Jacky Chan, Stephen Chow and more. Nowadays, I personally feel the entertainment lacks depth and storyline, even the slapstick humor isn't what it used to be. Over the past few years, the wealth gap in Hong Kong has skyrocketed out of proportions, with those in the top investment firms making upwards of a million HKD straight out of college, while others that make 12k HKD or less a month; which is extremely hard to save up in one of the most expensive cities in the world. With all this extra time, maybe it is cheaper to indulge in online entertainment at the comfort of your home/bed space, rather than spend it when you go out. This is an example of the dissatisfaction that arise from the growing wealth gap, which is slowly widening in China and other countries in the world.
Part 2: Types of Tittytainment
Online Entertainment costs the same, why tittytainment prevails? – Going back on the point of the growing income gap, and how it may be cheaper to indulge in online entertainment, let's briefly take a look at how the different forms of entertainment are structured and how it affects people's spending:
- Online Videos – An increasing number of online video streaming platforms now require VIP memberships in order to view the bulk of its entertainment, and for the hottest movies or series, it may even require an additional ‘coupon’ that costs extra. What this means is that people who do not purchase these memberships are restricted in their access to high-end entertainment. The remaining widely available options are B-rated movies, reality TV shows, short clips on social media, live streaming etc. which would fit into the tittytainment category.
- Games – An increasing number of games are adopting the free-to-play model, which means this form of entertainment is potentially free for anyone that has a smartphone/computer and internet connection. This is the ultimate form of tittytainment, a game can often take up hundreds if not thousands of hours of a person's life, and by the time they get bored, there will already be thousands of new games vying for the player's attention. There are a few key metrics in the gaming industry, one of which of course is revenue (ARPU, ARPPU etc.), the other is retention (1Day, 3day, 7 day, 1 month, DAU, MAU, Churn etc.). As for how to increase retention, apart from just making the games ‘fun’, game developers strive to make their products addictive, join a guild, your guild members need you; login everyday and get items; get a bonus if you are offline for a few days so you won’t fall too far behind etc. Almost in no other form of entertainment is ‘addictiveness’ a consideration in product design, reading, dancing, sports, music etc. all of these strive to stand out from the crowd or induce a certain feeling, but none are designed to be addictive in nature.
Now, I do have to emphasize that games and online videos are not mindless entertainment, because there is always something that you can learn from them, and everyone needs something less intensive for their minds to relax. But I do believe that there is more to be gained from reading a book or other forms of entertainment that does not take up an overwhelming bulk of a person's free time. Balance is key.
Part 3: Future Development
The future is not all bleak and the government isn't trying to use entertainment to suppress individual thinking or distract people from noticing their own problems to create an Orwellian future, in fact it is actually doing the opposite.
- 2017 July – Chinese Government convinces Tencent to implementing a limit on the number of hours children under the age of 18 and under 12 can play in the wildly popular game Arena of Valor（王者荣耀）every day.
- 2017 Oct – Delivered at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China by the Chinese President in his opening speech
"We will provide more and better online content and put in place a system for integrated internet management to ensure a clean cyberspace"
Though this does not emphasize on any particular area or strategy, it does show that the government hopes of provide better online content, rather than just mindless entertainment. However, of course the word ‘better' can be interpreted differently.
In addition, a country is not walled off from the rest of the world; there is an inherent competition against other countries, to have the better economy, have the better military, to advance faster than other countries, and with this, you cannot just have a society of mindless robots. The less innovative talents a country has, the slower it develops. Thus I believe that a disordered society has more to gain from employing such a tool, while an organized and rapidly developing society has more to gain from downplaying this effect.
In conclusion, tittytainment and games, is a necessary part of society. Like cigarettes, despite the numerous researches that link it as a cause of cancer, it still remains a widely available product today in part due to the significant tax income, tittytainment is also in part a necessary tool to satisfy the needs of the masses and manage society. How will this develop, this will largely be driven by government policies as well as the voices of the people, though it is certain that games will have an important role to play.
Sources: People.cn, Sixthtone, Payscale, Fortune, Xinhua and various other google searches
If the China mobile gaming market may be something of interest to you, whether you are a developer, in operations, marketing etc. join the LinkedIn Group "Mobile Gaming - China" for more relevant posts in the future and a place to meet other like minded individuals