China Puts Online Games That Glorify Mafia on Its Hit List

captured_Image.pngWhether it is religion, environmentalism or nonprofit charities, the Chinese government has always been wary of any organized activity it cannot directly control. 

Now there is an addition to the list: simulated organized crime.

On Monday, the Ministry of Culture issued a notice banning online games that feature Mafioso kingpins, marauding street gangs or any sort of hooliganism predisposed to organization.

The decree, which promises “severe punishment” for violators but fails to specify the penalties, also prohibits Web sites from including links to Internet games that glorify organized crime.

Such games, the ministry said, “embody antisocial behavior like killing, beating, looting and raping,” and their availability “gravely threatens and distorts the social order and moral standards, easily putting young people under harmful influence.”

By Tuesday, a number of popular games, including “Godfather,” “Gangster” and “Mafioso Hitman,” had been excised from the ether, although scores of other violence-laden games were still available.

The ruling is not entirely surprising, given the government’s war against Internet pornography and other sites that can be construed as “socially disruptive.”

This year more than a thousand Web sites have been shut down for “vulgar” content, although some critics complain that academic or public service sites that deal with sexually transmitted diseases have also been swept up in the juggernaut.

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