A professor who has fought against Internet addiction but is now praising the latest war game produced by a Shenzhen-based company, has triggered torrents of online criticism.
Tao Hongkai, professor from Central China Normal University, told the Global Times Tuesday that he has not received a fee to be spokesperson for the game, Liangjian 2, which translates as "Showing the Sword."
"I just want to support a healthy game that reflects social justice and benefits," Tao added.
Tao was invited to participate in an online game evaluation meeting in Shenzhen on May 21, and he has since written many Weibo postings recommending the game.
This did not sit well with many Chinese netizens who suspect that Tao, who had fiercely objected to computer games for causing Internet addiction, must have accepted money to speak on behalf of the game.
"I have never said I loathe games. I only detest unhealthy ones," said Tao, adding that some Chinese companies, such as China Mobile, produce healthy games.
The game is set during the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s and allows players to assume different roles as they fight and kill the enemy.
Tao reasoned that the game depicts the upbeat spirit and cooperation of the Chinese people.
"I went to Shenzhen to evaluate the game after receiving an invitation from ZQGame. A middleman asked me about the possibility of being a spokesperson for the game. I refused immediately," said Tao.
"I will sue those who slander me online," Tao angrily told the Global Times.
"There are three standards to judge games for quality, the content, the possibility of being addicted and its correlation to reality," said Tao.
A netizen "wandouxiaobing" pointed out there is no evidence that reality-based games are less addictive.
"Tao's pontification might come from benefits taken from the company."
"This is based on years of research that a healthy game would cause less addiction," Tao argued.
ZQGames' Wang Haiqing said his company did not mean to cause Tao trouble.
"Our company will hold a press conference to clarify the facts," said Wang. "Tao firstly did not agree to speak for the game, but we are discussing the details now. It's not hype, this game will be offered for free," Wang said.