China’s ‘Incorruptible Fighter’ remains offline

A promised upgrade to a Chinese game that lets users hunt down corrupt officials has yet to materialize, as the game remained offline for a second week.

“Incorruptible Fighter” was developed by the Ningbo city government, in eastern China, as part of a nationwide anticorruption campaign.

Unveiled on July 29, the game is aimed at children and requires players to seek out and punish corrupt officials.

But the game’s servers were unable to keep up with demand from users, and the game was taken offline two days later for an upgrade that would allow more users to play, officials said.

Corruption is a rampant problem in Chinese society, and is widespread in both the private and public sector.

However, many Chinese resent the effects of official corruption and public demonstrations have erupted in recent years over questionable real estate deals, industrial pollution, and other events.

The chance to hunt down corrupt officials, albeit imaginary ones, struck a chord with Chinese users.

“The enthusiastic response from Internet users to the trial of ‘Incorruptible Fighter’ overwhelmed the server’s limits,” read an Aug. 2 notice posted on the game’s Web site (in Chinese), that said the game’s hardware and software were being upgraded to cope with demand.

Nearly two weeks later, the promised upgrades are apparently not yet complete. But there may be other reasons for keeping the game offline.

On Tuesday, Chinese Web sites reported that government officials had ordered the game to be shut down, ostensibly because of user criticism.

“Some of the users who tested ‘Incorruptible Fighter’ were not satisfied with the game’s interface, while others questioned the effectiveness of the game in anticorruption education,” one Web site (in Chinese) said, quoting a statement reportedly posted on a Ningbo city government Web site.

The accuracy of the statement, which was quoted on several other Web sites and blogs, could not be immediately verified as the statement and other pages on the Web site operated by the Ningbo government could not be accessed.

However, the Aug. 2 notice announcing the planned upgrade to “Incorruptible Fighter,” which is also hosted using the domain name, remained accessible.

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