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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Weekend
The girl power
    2018-January-26  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

China's female gamers take center-stage with 'frog son' and 'virtual boyfriend' games

FOR the last 12 hours, the house has been empty. A young woman Xu Jing checks in regularly, spending time collecting clovers and sifting through the mail, but the stillness of the rustic cottage is unsettling. Earlier that day, she had packed a bag with sandwiches and some simple supplies, helping her little “frog son” rush off on another adventure. But it hasn’t returned yet — and she’s getting worried. Her “frog son” travels from time to time, and sometimes brings back gifts from its travels and also sends selfies taken at scenic spots, from which she seeks great comfort.

Such is the way of Tabi Kaeru, or Traveling Frog, the latest hit among young Chinese gamers. A Hit Point Co. production from Japan, the game has remained at the top of the Chinese mobile app download charts since Sunday and remains one of the most discussed topics on Chinese social media platforms. So far, the app has been downloaded more than 1 million times on Shanghai-based mobile game-sharing platform Taptap since its release on Dec. 6, 2017. Meanwhile on Sina Weibo, the hashtag #TravelingFrog has so far garnered more than 300 million views.

“The game caters to the softest part of some white-collars,” said He Yunfeng, head of Shanghai Normal University’s institute of knowledge and value sciences. “Many of them are striving for a living here in an unfamiliar city. They may empathize with the game as the frog has its own adventure which is completely out of the player’s hands.”

“The game reminds me of my time at university away from home,” said Dong Xiaoqi, who works in Shanghai but is from Ningbo in Zhejiang Province. “I thought my mother was nagging at the time when she was constantly asking me about my life here. Isn’t it grotesque to understand a mother’s mind via such a game?”

In Japanese, “kaeru” means “frog” as a noun; it also means “homecoming” as a verb.

Some believe the game is popular among young people for its Buddhist undertones. The concept refers to people who see through the emptiness of the material world and follow their heart. They find relationships troublesome and prefer to be alone.

Although the game is only available in Japanese, Traveling Frog has proved to be more popular in China than in its native country where it ranks 13th in the App Store.

This new take on the classic Tamagotchi is thought to be especially popular with female users as it evokes maternal feelings for their virtual son. However, it is also indicative of the rise of female mobile gamers in the Chinese market. The number of female players began to soar after the release of Suzhou Papergames Network Technology Co.’s Love and Producer.

In Love and Producer, the female protagonist is a television producer who must save her father’s film studio from bankruptcy by reviving a hit show. As she goes about her work, the central character comes into contact with various men, and for China’s growing legion of women gamers, that is where the fun starts.

“It’s [like] a romantic novel with fascinating voices. It’s more real than reading a novel,” said Shen Junzhi, a freshman at a university in Wuhan, Hubei Province.

The game’s “delicate drawings” and the “great voices of the four male characters” were also a big draw, she said.

Shen is not alone in her praise for the game, which made its debut last month. Before Traveling Frog, Love and Producer was the star title on the gaming charts. It not only overtook the smash hit Honor of Kings among Apple store’s free downloads, but also replaced it as the most talked about game on Weibo.

While China’s gaming market has long been dominated by men — drawn by the abundance of “virtual girlfriend” apps — the popularity of Love and Producer, which is effectively a “virtual boyfriend” game, was indicative of a changing tide, said Xue Yongfeng, an industry analyst with Beijing-based consulting firm Analysys.

“There has always been demand for games among women, but they tend to be more selective and less likely to become addicted to them,” he said.

Turian Tan, a market analyst at IDC China who specializes in online gaming, said the reason for the success of Love and Producer was that it tapped into women’s interests. “Simulation and character development are popular themes [among women gamers], especially when a potential love story is added as the plot develops,” he said.

Although there were still about three times as many men playing online games as women in China, there had been a steadily rising trend towards games produced for a female audience, he said.

“Women are especially active within mobile games that are easy to operate, relaxing to play and have a more feminine feel,” Tan said.

Though even with more “masculine” games, like Honor of Kings, the number of women players was also rising. According to a study by Beijing-based consulting firm iResearch, women accounted for 24 per cent of all gamers on China’s mainland in 2016, with that figure rising to about half for games specifically targeted at women, such as Miracle Nikki and Xian Xia Love 3. (SD-Agencies)

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