“Development and Distribution Strategies of Independent Mobile Games in China” presented by Chung


Session Title:

  • Games: China - Games and Gaming in China

Presentation Title:

  • Development and Distribution Strategies of Independent Mobile Games in China




  • This paper proposes to study the development and distribution strategies of independent mobile games in China. The paper examines the alternative game culture that is different from the dominant cultural form of MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). Literature in Chinese game studies has focused on the outcome of a rapidly growing Chinese game industry in both game developing and publishing sectors. As the Chinese game market will soon grow to surpass the Untied States and becomes the world’s largest online game market in 2016, a comprehensive framework to study the Chinese game industry, market and its game art and culture is necessary. The paper considers China’s game development one of the cases for game production locale in Asia that is capable to produce different form of game art from the creative style of western games. This creative capability deserves research attention as it opens up the possibility of alternative design system that gives rise to local culture and creative talent. This creative framework goes beyond current creative system controlled by major transnational corporations.
    A review of current Chinese game development in the mainstream sector, however, points out both strength and weakness in the design of Chinese games. Relevant industry report has identified censorship, over-commercialism and shanzhai (an act of copying in the creative process) as challenges that hinder the creative freedom of game designers in China. The paper will contextualize discussion on China’s independent games in this creative context. It will first provide an overview of the game industry development, highlighting the structuralization and concentration process of major game companies including Tencent, Alibaba and others. The paper will then introduce the history of development on independent games in China. It dates back to 1970s based upon historical material that the author gathers from her research fieldwork. The paper will also introduce the rise of current independent game culture by connecting the discussion to current game jam tradition and global independent game culture. The paper illustrates the political and economic significance of independent game creation within limited industrial resource in China. The paper lastly reviews major award winning independent games of Mr. Pumpkin Adventure, Finger Balance and Breezy Bay, etc. It analyses alternative game art represented in these games. It also discusses publishing network adopted by these major independent game developers in China. Conclusion section of the paper will focus on the contribution of independent game in reviving a progressive game development culture in China. It concludes with the contribution of alternative game art to revitalize industry dynamics at forming a sustainable value chain in China’s game industry.

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