Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Chinese online game lets players fight Japan over disputed islands

By CNN Staff
August 6, 2013 -- Updated 0100 GMT (0900 HKT)
Players are asked to fight Japan over disputed real-life islands in
Players are asked to fight Japan over disputed real-life islands in "Glorious Mission Online," a video game co-developed by the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • First online game co-developed by the People's Liberation Army allows players to fight Japan
  • In one level, players are asked to defend disputed Diaoyu islands, known as Senkaku in Japan
  • Game developer Gu Kai says the game targets nationalistic youths in hopes of recruiting them

(CNN) -- In "Glorious Mission Online," China's first online game co-developed by the People's Liberation Army and released to the public, players join the ranks of the country's military to take on the enemy.

The game was originally developed by China's military as a training and recruitment tool and featured Chinese forces taking on American soldiers.

But the game drew massive nationwide attention because of one level, which pits Chinese soldiers against a different enemy -- Japan.

This level is set on an island chain disputed between China and Japan. The game asks players to defend the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.

Disputed islands buzzing with activity
Anti-Japanese protests rage in China

Both countries claim sovereignty over the remote, rocky islands, which are near important shipping lanes, rich fishing grounds and possible mineral deposits.

Japan currently administers the area, but since late last year, China has mounted a concerted campaign to try to change the situation.

Chinese and Japanese ships cluster around disputed islands

So popular was the game in stoking nationalism amid growing tension between the East Asian neighbors over the islands, developers have officially changed the name of the island mission level to "Defending the Diaoyu Islands."

"The part where we defend the Diaoyu Islands and the aircraft combat were fun! All Chinese should play," posted @Gaici2hao. @Haidaoshengmingyue posted: "We fought with the Japanese yesterday in Shanghai and the Diaoyu Islands, it's cool."

Although interest in the game has centered on the territorial issue, game developer Gu Kai says this was not the intention.

"I think the game has been misinterpreted a little bit," says Gu, whose firm Giant Interactive Group, Inc. co-developed the game with the Nanjing Military Area Command of the PLA. Gu says the company never specified the island area as the disputed territory in the first place, and the decision to label the mission was in response to growing public interest over the topic.

The idea of using military-themed game to train soldiers or serve as a recruitment tool is not new. The U.S. army has an online game called "America's Army" that allows players to go on training missions and fight each other online.

According to Gu, "Glorious Mission" targets nationalistic youths who are attracted to online games.

A press release from Giant Interactive Group claims that the game presents a full picture of the PLA's daily operations and calls upon youths to join the army, defend their country, and strengthen the "Chinese Dream."

Gu says it is hoped the game will help recruit more recent graduates who are experiencing increasing difficulty in a declining China job market, together with well-educated college graduates.

Compared to other countries, China is relatively late in terms of using games as military training and recruitment.

"For a long time, Chinese military has been distant and mysterious to the public, but the game opens a door for young people to learn about the PLA and how the military operates," Gu says.

"The game aims to provide players with an authentic experience; even the voices are from real soldiers."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0312 GMT (1112 HKT)
China has produced elite national athletes but some argue the emphasis on winning discourages children. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0513 GMT (1313 HKT)
Chinese are turning to overseas personal shoppers to get their hands on luxury goods at lower prices.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 0908 GMT (1708 HKT)
Experts say rapidly rising numbers of Christians are making it harder for authorities to control the religion's spread.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 0452 GMT (1252 HKT)
"I'm proud of their moral standing," says Harvey Humphrey. His parents are accused of corporate crimes in China.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 1942 GMT (0342 HKT)
A TV confession detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for sex has capped the dramatic fall of one of China's most high-profile social media celebrities.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0410 GMT (1210 HKT)
President Xi Jinping's campaign to punish corrupt Chinese officials has snared its biggest target -- where can the campaign go from here?
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 0712 GMT (1512 HKT)
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0230 GMT (1030 HKT)
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 0911 GMT (1711 HKT)
Is the Chinese president a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 0344 GMT (1144 HKT)
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
July 4, 2014 -- Updated 0631 GMT (1431 HKT)
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 0656 GMT (1456 HKT)
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 0836 GMT (1636 HKT)
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 0334 GMT (1134 HKT)
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
ADVERTISEMENT