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Date Posted: 18:30 14/09/2005

Planet Tharg and the Three Represents

The government takes on the nerds

THE RULING Communist Party has, as we all know, been drifting further and further away from its historical mission of liberating the proletariat and by now clings on to power partly through a grotesque flowering of patriotic kitsch and jingoistic indignation. This battle for hearts and minds is not confined to banners and classrooms and TV galas, but also involves the arcane (and incredibly popular) world of the online computer game.

The latest campaign involves the likes of Zheng He (the seafaring Muslim eunuch), Yue Fei (the twelfth century general), Zheng Chenggong (the 'liberator of Taiwan'), and Lei Feng (the dopy CCP do-gooder and dogsbody). All four, we are told today, will play a central role in China's efforts to promote 'patriotic online games', thus allowing the country's doomed but webbed-up youth to get addicted to healthy government propaganda instead of cynical western nihilism.

Trying to persuade adolescents to switch off World of Warcraft and turn instead to Lei Feng Donates His Rice To His Comrade is, of course, a preposterous idea, and - unless the government resorts to counterproductively draconian measures - is bound to end in failure.

The fact that the government is trying to shore up popular support among the young by infiltrating video games certainly smacks of desperation. The dreams of the nation's young netizens are already cluttered with the zombies and aliens and enemy soldiers they had been trying to destroy over the course of most of the day, and no newspaper seems complete nowadays without a story about some addicted kid who hasn't changed his pants for six months, sleeps in the internet café and goes to the toilet in his instant noodle box. As well as restricting gameplay times, the government seems also to have decided that the best way is to join in all the fun. 'Your mission, Warrior, is to infiltrate the hordes of Planet Tharg and secure the Three Represents.'

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