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With the profound nature of Chinese culture, the combination of Chinese traditional elements and intriguing storyline in games would be a potential breakthrough for Chinese game industry.

Harvey Cheng, Blogger

December 16, 2014

13 Min Read

Part. I Game Plot
In recent years, the meaning of game plot is being justified and amplified. Actually, with the current stage of technology advancement, the video and audio sectors in game are more or less to the same standard. The unique way for people to distinguish the successfulness of games is through their game plots. With a better game plot, the players will feel more united and empathetic. The players will understand the game and engage with it throughout the game-play. The game developers have been trying to find the answer to the question on how to make the games more vivid and substantial and how to fulfill players’ emotional appeals. Indeed, the integration of Chinese elements could be a significant breakthrough.

I.1 The importance of game plots.
The game plot is the sole of a game and the essential factor to promote the flow of the game. The integration of story in games substantially enhances their lasting appeal. Telling or listening to the story, as a traditional way of entertainment, provides the channel for people to communicate and interact with the world. In games, a good storyline is the stimulus for players staying in the game and playing as long as possible. Therefore, an attractive storyline has a great potential in creating the lasting appeal and virus-like dissemination of the game. Lots of current games in China reveal the tasks to the players prior to each level or stage. Players could easily get bored of them. Nowadays, the trend of creating a intriguing game is to tell the players a good story with the integration of background, concepts, and stages. The rationale of keeping the active players as long as possible is to design an interesting game plot acting as a guide for the players and setting a target for them. As such, the players will feel a sense of accomplishment with the completion of personal task and a sense of curiosity.

I.2 The Characteristics of Game Plot Containing Chinese Traditional Elements Usually, the way we perceive the story is simplex. However, games, especially online games, contain a complex world. It is common to see that other players or characters attempts to interrupt the plot that you are involving with. Game is an entity focusing on interaction. The functions and the technical supports in the process of game development should focus on this particular entity. Nowadays, the games in China are not centered on one aspect. The developers are not clear of what is their ultimate goal. Instead, they are trying to achieve multiple accomplishments in one game, which is rarely possible. The Legend of Sword and Fairy is one of few domestically produced games that have been successful in Chinese game industry for the past ten years. Although there are many complicated and time-consuming puzzles requiring to be solved by players, their curiosity towards discovering the ending of the game is absolutely irresistible. After finding out the ending of the game, most of the players are deeply touched by the love story between the main characters in the game. The success of The Legend of Sword and Fairy is an exemplary of the importance of game plot. 

The game would not be successful without the schematic storyline and the corresponding plot. Even if the game is a little bit lack of interaction system, the game is still highly praised by the players with its extraordinary game plot. For online game, the game plots cannot be as simplex as console games. Due to the open environment and the multiplayer nature, online games have to deal with players from different time zones and different geographical areas, telling them one story followed by another story then another... More like a collection of fairy tales, the game plot of online games is obviously less integrated than that of console games. Although, there might be few connections or even no connection between each story, they all happened in a designated world. Theoretically, a good set of game plot is the basis to attracting more players. However, that is what domestically produced games are missing. The producers are paying less attention to foreshadow the storyline of the games or just simply import the existing story without considering the appropriateness. Even for online games, the hidden connections between multiple story lines are missing in domestically produced games. The tasks for players in different games are more or less same. It is hard to lid up players’ passion for the game.

Part II. The application of Chinese Traditional Elements in Games
If you look up “Online Games Prototype” in Google, you will find the art pieces with oriental style are everywhere. However, except for the painters, no one is able to tell exactly which game it is. It is because people have a similar opinion of Chinese games. On the other hand, it also reflects the lack of the content of online games.

Some Chinese online games are no longer satisfied with the form of Chinese cultural heritage. They inherit the essence of Buddhism and Taoism as the core conception of the games. The characters in the game shows the outside appearance of the game and the culture and spirit reflected show the inside essence of the game. If the game developers want to keep the unity of the game, they must fill up the game with the spirit of the traditional culture throughout the game. The main idea of the game Giant clearly shows the traditional Confucian culture—“Cultivate individual moral character, run the family unison, manage the nation in order, and peace will prevail throughout the universe” It successfully combines the education of Chinese traditional culture with the growth of game characters. Giant contains the worship of totem, myth wars and tribe integration. This is one of the best extensions of online game.

Similarly, QQ Huaxia is comprehensive analysis of the development of Chinese traditional culture. It has a complete hierarchy system, including gens tasks, gens upgrade, gens skill and gens store. Players can make friends with one another in this game and adventure with their gens brothers, fighting the monsters and looking for treasures and so on. The gens system unites unfamiliar players sharing the same interests together and therefore creates a cozy family themselves. The idea of feeling and sublime the essence of life is much more significant and obviously agreeable than simply playing game for level ups. This change is not happening without the integration of Chinese traditional games in games.

Chinese element also has great impact on the background of the games. It is common to see a character wearing traditional Chinese clothing, holding a sword and riding a dragon in the game scene. In the game The World, the surroundings and background are featured by the extensive use of Chinese monochromes, showing the beautiful pastoral landscape of China.  Si Xing and Ba Gua can also be found in game skills and effects to represent the characteristics of Yin and Yang.

Part III. Current Situation and Future Expectation of Online Games Containing Chinese Traditional Elements
III.1 Current Situation

The greatest difficulty for the globalization of Chinese games is about the acceptance and understanding from people with distinct cultural background. The game developers should create opportunities for the introduction of Chinese games with Chinese traditional elements into the world. In North America and Southeast Asia, there is significant number of people interested in Chinese culture. However, the business partners are still afraid of that too many Chinese

III.2 Future Expectation
With the sharply rising of Chinese online game, online game with Chinese elements now has gradually gained popularity among the global market. Thanks to the successful host of The Olympic Games in 2008, people from all over the world now accept Chinese traditions. Game players start enjoying the mysterious eastern culture via online games.

Most of people agree to the following opinion that Chinese Kung Fu successfully reflects the essence of Taoism and Buddhism. The broad and profound culture is a unique advantage for Chinese game developers. The best median to express this culture in game industry is Kung Fu, one of the most influential Chinese traditional elements in the world. Some famous Chinese works, such as Journey to the West and The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, are based on Kung Fu. The successful and popular games based on those literatures, such as Fantasy Westward Journey and Warriors of Fate, all contains sufficient storyline. 

Also, there are popular games like Tian Long Ba Bu and Lu Ding Ji are based on Jing Yong’s Kung Fu novels. No matter what background story it presents, as soon as you mention Chinese Kung Fu, you would definitely find a large number of supporters all over the world.

Kung Fu online game is an effective soft power disseminating Chinese cultural elements around the world within a short period, especially in mature market of online gaming such as Europe, America, Korea and Japan. Some of them are highly recognized and acknowledged among players. One example is “Kung Fu World”. Landed the North American gaming market in 2007, it is a combination of lots of essence of Chinese Kung Fu, including all the martial arts movements. Many of the characters in the game are Kung Fu maters in different Kung Fu style who are knowledgeable with Chinese poetry and culture.

Miss Lu Yu, developer of Kung Fu World and vice president of Tengren Information Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., stated the fact that players in North America are not strangers with Chinese Kung Fu. They have been watching Kung Fu films from either mainland China, Taiwan or Hong Kong; recent Disney movie Kung Fu Panda had well-reflected on the Kung Fu movements too. Nevertheless, it is evident that these players are unfamiliar with the origin and history of Kung Fu due to a lack of information in media; either can they actually experience Kung Fu in their daily lives. Therefore, Kung Fu World focused on bringing the most authentic and original user experience that integrated traditional Chinese culture and customs. The authenticity and cultural background truly differentiates this game with those online game provided by Korean, Japanese or local developers. Similarly, several other games based on Chinese Kung Fu, such as Kung Fu Online, were successful in marketing abroad. 

The hardship of Chinese game encountered during the entrance of global game market fully illustrates that Chinese games without any traditional elements are unable to attract the attention of the globe. As long as the integration of Chinese culture exists in the game, Chinese games are full of vigor and vitality. Musicians must make music, artists must paint, poets must write if they are to be ultimately at peace with themselves. What human beings can be, they must be. They must be true to their own nature. This need we may call self-actualization (Marslow, 1970). The essence or self-actualization of Chinese game is about Chinese culture. Chinese culture has become the trump card for its domestically produced games standing on the peak of international gaming industry. While Chinese games gaining their popularity around the world, the traditional culture of this western country with over five-thousand-year history is being spread and inherited on every part of the world. Look, there comes Chinoiserie. 

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