China anti-graft game too popular to stay online

BEIJING Tue Aug 28, 2007 9:43am BST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese online game aimed at curbing official corruption has been shut down just weeks after its launch after proving so popular that the number of users overloaded its server, state media reported on Tuesday.

The government-sponsored "Incorruptible Warrior" taught anti-graft measures by requiring players to kill corrupt officials while avoiding attacks by their henchmen and bikini-clad mistresses.

"It has been closed so it could be updated, as more and more users have registered, overloading the server," China's Xinhua news agency quoted an official with the discipline commission in the south-eastern city of Ningbo, which launched the game, as saying.

The game server could accommodate 600 players at a time, but in the first week of its release alone it attracted more than 10,000 players, the report said, adding it was unclear when the game might be back online.

Corruption has become rampant in China since market reforms were introduced in the 1980s, and the ruling Communist Party has warned the problem is so great it could threaten its hold on power if it is not curbed.

The government has been trying various means to crack down on graft, from mass campaigns to handing down punishments as harsh as execution for top officials felled by corruption charges.

But the report said while "Incorruptible Warrior" was meant as a new way to target graft, it had been criticised by some users who suggested it was improper to encourage players to kill corrupt officials in violent ways.

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