• Directory of Taiwan

China kills off murder mystery games

Whodunnits the latest victim of Beijing’s culture crackdown

Group of players enjoying scripted murder game in China.  

Group of players enjoying scripted murder game in China.   (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Murder mysteries are the latest billion-dollar industry to be struck down in broad daylight by Chinese authorities after state-run media painted a target on the sector’s back, calling it “a breeding ground for pornography and violence” earlier this year.

So-called “script murders” (劇本殺) are popular across China, and some top creators have reached stardom through them. Whether played online or in-person, a group of friends role-play as characters and spend lengthy sessions together solving riddles and picking up clues before they finally solve the murder mystery.

Yet the Chinese Communist Party sees the script murder scene as a hub for immorality and is applying the same regulatory pressure recently used to suppress the tech industry, video games, and effeminate boy stars, according to a VOA report.

Last month, authorities warned owners of script murder outlets to “resolutely resist scripts that violate laws and regulations” after state media warned youngsters immersed in the games may lose their grip on reality, “resulting in psychological problems."

State media also emphasized the need for “correct values” in the scripts, expressing concern that plots based on fictional “human demons” or “possessed people” were too much for mature adults to handle.

Though script murder games started in the West in the early 20th century, it was only after South Korean drama “Crime Scene” came out in 2015 that the fad caught on in China. The number of script murder clubs in China has grown from about 1,000 in 2017 to 45,000 today, per Meituan Research Institute.

It is unclear how the new pressure from regulators could affect the industry’s growth going forward.

Updated : 2021-12-09 00:20 GMT+08:00