Plight of China's 'nail houses' reflected in online game

Call it a little touch of modern social realism or perhaps a touch of subversive fun but a new online game is making noise in China for highlighting one the most controversial current government practices.

Nail Household vs Demolition Team (which can be found at http://www.4399.com/flash/36869_2.htm?1024) pokes a little fun at the Chinese government's practice of forced evictions and demolitions - a much-debated policy that has resulted in the "nail house'' phenomenon. That term refers to the households which refuse to move and thus their buildings stick out like nails in a plank of wood as the demolition goes on around them.

The game - developed by Mirage Games - presents players with the task of using six family members to protect a building that has been targeted for destruction.

The weapons of choice - including homemade rockets, a catapult and even slippers - have all been used by various "nail house'' owners over the years, including the farmer in the country's central Hunan province who mounted a tower next to his home and kept demolition crews at bay for months with his firecrackers and rockets.

China's website watchers say the game has been played closed to two million times since it was released at the end of August. "I love playing because it really pacifies your anger,'' one student told the China Daily newspaper. "The demolishers deserve to receive the same treatment that they dish out to home owners.''

China's rapid modern development has meant many older settlements and suburbs have made way for massive infrastructure projects such as highways and high-speed train lines, while many cities have seen such rapid rises in population that land for new housing developments has been at a premium. There has been growing concern over the plight of homeowners forced to vacate their properties - sometimes by force.

There's little wonder the new online game is creating a stir. China's online community has become a massive social force over the past decade and now numbers around 385 million. Last year the online gaming industry alone accounted for nearly US$4 billion (3.06 billion euro) in revenue.

MS

 

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