A children-rearing game called "Chinese Parents" has gained popularity among Chinese players recently with its real-life simulation and realistic plots.
Released on Sept. 29, this online game has received over 13,000 comments on Tencent WeGame and Steam, two popular gaming platforms in China, in less than a month, according to data from the two platforms.
"Why not re-experience the joy of changing your destiny through the game?" said Sun Shoubin, a 28-year-old in the city of Zibo in east China's Shandong province. He became addicted to the game as soon as he downloaded it.
Players are responsible for cultivating their fictitious children online. During the lifetime of these children, they must make vital choices for them just like Chinese parents do in real life, such as choosing extra-curricular classes, deciding their majors in universities, and even finding marriage partners for them.
Players can also choose the specialties for their "children," and then they will grow up in line with their chosen path. A "child's" physicality, IQ level, and imagination can be improved by attending courses arranged by the player "parents" in each round of the game.
"I chose math courses for my son at the age of five and a foreign language class for him at the age of six," Sun said, noting that he hoped his child could attend an elite school in the game.
"The setting of the game is very close to our daily life," said Wang Shumin, a player of the game and student at Kunming University of Science and Technology in southwest China's Yunnan province. "It makes me recall a series of familiar memories from my own experience. For example, when the child in the game was taking an exam, I became just as anxious as I was when I was about to take my college entrance examinations several years ago."
"In the game, my son is currently nine years old. He got a score of zero for each of his courses at school except for the Chinese course," Wang said, sighing she was an unqualified "mom."
Although players can have fun through controlling the important stages of their children's life, as time goes by, players also have their own worries, such as a lack of energy, experience, and money to raise children.
"I can do what I like and make up for the regrets in my childhood through playing this game," Sun said.
Chinese parents are more likely to plan almost everything for their children. Social issues about Chinese parents, families, and education of children are prone to arouse heated discussions. "I integrated these ideas into the game, creating a sense of ‘rebirth‘ for players and inducing them to experience a virtual child-rearing life through entertainment," said Yang Geyilang, the game producer.
Yang said statistics from Baidu Search showed that 40 to 50 year-old Chinese parents account for 13 percent of the total number of players. "It indicates that besides young people, some Chinese parents also want to find a more effective way to communicate with their children in real life from this game," Yang said.
In the game, when players' children get married, the players will enter the second phase of the game and become parents of the second generation, so that the game can be looped.
"I have raised a child in the third generation, and I'm so proud that he was finally admitted into Tsinghua University, one of China's top two universities," a player named Nuoyan commented on Tencent WeGame.
"After playing this game, I find that we always try our best to meet parents' demands and do not want to let them down. But because of that, we don't live the life we want," a player named Joker X commented on Steam. "If I have a chance to be reborn, I will live for myself," Joker X said.
Some negative comments were also made by the game players. "This game is somewhat ironic," a player named Producer Kahn commented, highlighting that although exams are important, we cannot regard the scores as the only standard to judge a child, which has become a routine for many Chinese families.
Liu Yue, a professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, Shandong University, said this game helps players realize the difficulties of their parents in raising children. "We can pull back in the game, but real life never allows us to restart," Liu said, adding that young people should make rational plans at different stages of their lives.
"From the game, I also learned that unremitting efforts can bring about great changes to our lives," Sun said. "On the other hand, I can understand my parents more, and show my gratitude for the hardships they have overcome for raising and cultivating me."